We catch up with Chef Julien Othomeme and get his take on the future of the industry
1.Can you tell us about your current role ?
I am actually Pastry Chef at « Le Chalet de la Forêt », a two michelin stars restaurant in
Brussels, Belgium .
2.What has been some of the highlights of this position ?
Always looking for the best way to sublime a product. Working with seasonal and local products. Being able to transmit my passion everyday to my team. Elaborating new dishes close to nature. Even though we are in the city, i can always refresh my mind in the forest (Bois de la Cambre) next to the restaurant.
3.Can you tell us a bit about your carrer before this current position ?
I wasn't always in the pastry. I started cooking at the age of 14years old, by watching and helping my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. They gave me the passion of cooking. I fell in love with the atmosphere and the transmition of love from a person to a dish.
I did 3 years of « savoury » before switching to pastry. I was 16 by then and the only idea I had in mind was to learn the most, the fastest. I spent two years at « Le Castellas ** » in south of France with the chef Jerôme Nutile (MOF « Meilleur Ouvrier de France »), before starting at « Le Chalet de la Forêt ** », and then « Le Bristol » in Paris with Laurent Janin. A while after, I recieved a call from Pascal Devalkenneer (Le Chalet de la Forêt**) telling me that he was looking for a Pastry chef. That was an offer I couldn't refuse. So I came back to Belgium.
4.What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment ?
For me, the biggest challenge is to keep working with the same ingredients each season but going deeper and further with the creation. Finding always a new way to surprise the customer. Think of the impossible and making it possible !
5.What do you see as a possible solution to the growing shortage of chefs ?
We are in a world where you can get anything you want whenever you want (with social media, internet, etc.). So I believe the younger generation lose patience and want to achieve the greatest position, the faster the better. But I believe they are jumping steps. It's a tough job, long hours, but if you do it with passion you lose track of time. Being a chef is not easy, it takes years, but its worth the wait !