Not long ago, I went back to the Coq aux Champs to spend an afternoon with Christophe Pauly. Sharing a meal and visiting the food market of Villers-Le-Temple, I witnessed his collaboration with Marc Pellizer, a vegetable producer. This collaborative approach, a real trend in Wallonia, indicates that mentalities are changing among chefs and producers.
Christophe Pauly, confidence and rigour
As I’ve highlighted before, Christophe Pauly has never been one to compromise with quality. He is a man known to love consistency and will always try to source prime local ingredients, at least when possible. His collaboration with the Ferme de Limet, which provides poultry, is now a well-established routine.
However, regular customers will have noticed a switch during the last few years. His collaboration with the collective GenerationW and, recently, North Sea Chef (an important step for Christophe Pauly, who loves fishes from Britany) shows his desire to go further. Recent dialogues with local producers, such as Graines de Curieux (Colza oil) or the promising organic farm Ferme Bio de Tabreux, demonstrate that talented chefs can now work with regional ingredients.
Marc, Christophe, a dialogue
A good example of a successful collaboration is the one that we witness between Christophe Pauly and Marc Pellizer. This vegetable producer contributes to the Coq aux Champs’ success. The chef and the farmer mutually understand the other’s needs and problems. Vegetables must be perfect (maturity, colour, texture) and plentiful to supply the restaurant. Likewise, Christophe must listen to Marc’s issues (seasons, weather, etc.) when designing his menus. This set of expectations triggers a permanent dialogue between actors. They are both committed and respect each other.
Le Jardin des Templiers, more than a vegetable producer
Marc Pellizer is more than a farmer. He is a professional who understands cycles and opportunities, a real businessman. Aside his collaboration with the Coq aux Champs, he is also selling his vegetables on the market and owns a small delicatessen shop, Potage & Cilou (Yvoz-Ramet), where his products are sold.
The result in the plate
Both men are eager to promote regional vegetables. at the end of June, Christophe Pauly visited the abovementioned market to cook a few simple dishes made with cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. A cold soup of cucumber and beetroots was warmly received by the lucky ones who tried it. The chef made people smile with his simplicity and those fabulous organic vegetables.
A menu beyond dogma
if Christophe cooked simply at the market, it would be a mistake to think that he does the same in his own kitchen. The talented chef delivered a high-quality menu with exceptional ingredients.
The lightly smoked sardine, almost reminiscent of a Herring, was balanced by delicate white beans. The langoustines (from Guilvinec) and carrots were perfectly cooked. The local Duke of Berkshire, a powerful meat, was served with a clever herbs sabayon. This dish illustrates how Christophe has grown, how his dishes offer beauty based on solid French roots.
Following the Limet poultry and its basquaise, desserts were served. All displayed impressive technical skills, such as this meringue parfait and the refreshing sorrel-apple-yoghurt. This dessert, both summary and tonic, was probably one of the best that I tried recently!
Spirit from Condroz
Service was also enjoyable. The sommelier was knowledgeable and friendly, a man who can judge the exact amount of information needed. Wines mirrored the menu. There was no dogma, no trendy gimmicks. Natural wines made the list but a broad range of bottles were available.
The Coq aux Champs is one of those restaurants where you can let yourself go, knowing that you are in good hands in this sunny corner of Wallonia.