Luxembourg | La Distillerie: restaurant with (natural) identity
Personality on its own is not enough to climb rankings and get awards, but it’s certainly needed to take a successful restaurant, La Distillerie in Luxembourg - already awarded with a Michelin star - and, post-lockdown, decide to convert it fully into a vegetarian restaurant.
(Smart) food costs considerations on a side, the transition didn’t come as a surprise.
Chef Rene Mathieu’s grandfather was a woodsman who thought him to recognize edible plants and flowers, while the grandmother how to cook them.
Belgian by origin, Chef Mathieu has been cooking his way through Luxembourg since his arrival in 2002, (literally) at the court of the Grand-Ducal family. Nowadays, he is the chef that best represents the spirit of the country, its (natural) potential, the forests and the undergrowth.
The restaurant itself is fully immersed in nature, overlooking a green carpet of trees from the tower of the Bourlingster castle. Everything on the plate is handpicked or locally farmed. Cooking techniques and flavors are responsibility of the creativity of the chef: the result is a colorful approach, at times earthy, acid, sweet and smoky.
“It’s only us who need nature in our life, not the other way around”. These are the words Rene exchanges with us during our visit at the beginning of June - our first restaurant of the post-lockdown era.
The same philosophy and spirit that today are worth him the first place as Best Vegetables Restaurant in the World by the "We’re smart world" guide 2020 (trademark Frank Fol) and (who knows?) maybe the Chef of the Year award by Gault & Millau at the end of October (just a personal guess).
Awards on a side, we are talking about a chef with a strong identity and a clear vision of the purpose of his cuisine. In a country where the use of high-sounding products is often the green card to voluminous wallets, Mathieu has decided to fill the plates with wild herbs that are often trampled and sauces made of fermented juices, while electing carrots and fennels to the degree of main dishes.