Chef Sang Hoon Degeimbre: a special ambassador of Belgian gastronomy
- Belgian 2 Stars Chef at L’air du temps
- Chef of the Year 2016 in Belgium
- Sustainability award, 19/20 + 5 Toques by G&M
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L’air du temps is more than a restaurant, it’s a destination where you can discover the riches unique to the local area and the identity of a chef whose creativity is at one with nature.
Sang Hoon Degeimbre elevates the best of what nature has to offer by giving it the full respect it deserves: sensitivity to the seasons, zero waste, searching for cooking methods that require less energy, reduced use of water, etc. The quest for the perfect balance plays out in the kitchens of L’air du temps, both in terms of the flavours and the garden.
Because Sang Hoon Degeimbre is not only a chef, he’s also a producer. The restaurant is surrounded by 5 hectares of land, half of which is cultivated and produces 90% of the supplies of vegetables, fruits and herbs required by the restaurant. A special kind of work that forms and shapes the philosophy and creativity of the chef and his team and responds to the vagaries of nature, the weather and the harvests.
His creativity and his fine and unique dishes have made Sang Hoon Degeimbre a special ambassador of Belgian gastronomy all over the world.
Tuesday, 1st July 1997
Sang Hoon Degeimbre and Carine Nosal open their restaurant on the ground floor of their house: L’air du Temps in Noville sur Mehaigne. In the middle of ‘nowhere’, yet close to everything. That’s where the adventure begins.
Sang Hoon, having become a sommelier, hasn’t ever yet crossed over to the other side of the counter: to the kitchens. It’s a first performance, his appearance on the scene. His knowledge of wine, the precision of his palate are exactly the assets that the chef develops in the kitchen in order to understand the essential qualities of a dish. L’air du temps begins its journey.
2000 new millennium and first star.
The chef never stops asking questions and learning. His constant quest allows him to discover different culinary territories and meeting Hervé Thys opens up a window for him onto a style of cooking that’s still unrecognised at this time: molecular cuisine. It’s a chapter in his culinary story that gives him a better understanding of the end product.
A few years later, they meet Benoit Blairvacq. They nurture their budding friendship with lively discussions about food and cooking, produce, products and flavour. This will turn out to be a key turning point in the career of these two men driven by their passion for great food. One will leave the world of insurance to set up his kitchen garden, the other will take chemistry out of his cooking in order to focus only on nature. Vegetables occupy an increasingly important place in his creations, filling the plate with colour, inspiring new gustatory and chromatic palettes. The meal then becomes an interaction of discoveries.
2008, a second star. 2013 and the land.
Sang Hoon and Carine move L’air du temps to Liernu. In the middle of land.
A decisive step in a cuisine that’s becoming a gastronomic project firmly focused on the environment. A terrestrial and human adventure.
The family is growing: a team of 14 people get down to work in the kitchens and in the restaurant dining room, with 4 people dedicated to the garden. But the team also includes producers – arable and livestock farmers, market gardeners and fish breeders working with a shared passion. In the kitchen, Sang Hoon confides that he is only the conductor of an orchestra in which each chef plays his or her part in order to succeed in composing a symphony finale. It’s a bit like one big family.
The garden, stretching out 5 hectares as far as the eye can see, is the starting point of what’s revealed on the plate. This is where the vegetables, herbs and flowers grow that make up, embellish and nourish body and mind. Sang Hoon Degeimbre puts his talent and creativity to work for the product, in a very humble approach. A fertile soil that he respects and is getting to know. Nature can teach us everything, we just have to listen to it. This is the very place, in this green paradise, where the fragrances and the unique and little known flavours emerge, which create the identity of Sang Hoon’s cuisine.
His determination to respect the product also encompasses the whole philosophy of ‘terroir’. Paying tribute to the land of his birth and his adopted land. By making up two set menus: The Signature that includes the seasonal classics and Suprématie Végétale (the new creations), Sang Hoon Degeimbre draws on his roots but also constantly looking at what’s around him. He remains attentive to the smallest detail. He feeds on the past and draws from the present.
2018 and augmented reality
L’air du temps is an experience that should be enjoyed surrounded by nature in order appreciate it fully. With April 2018 comes the new restaurant dining room, consisting of wood and glass, completely opening out onto the garden.
You dine on local, home-grown produce, gazing out at the nourishing soil. And, coming full circle, the chef turns to the ceramicist Bibendou to present his creations on dishes especially dreamed up for this purpose and made of the earth of the region.
In two decades, there’s been a number of different chapters in the life of L’air du temps. Just like its chef, it’s constantly evolving, a quest for precision. It’s the result of the patience and passion of a chef, his partner and all those who support them. From the soil to the plate.
Two Michelin stars since 2008
19/20 + 5 Toques by Gault & Millau
2017 : Restaurant Owner of the year by Les Grandes Tables du Monde
2017 : Sustainability award by Gault & Millau
2016 : Chef od the Year by Gault & Millau