The Holiday season is upon us, and that always goes hand in hand with Holiday eating. In order to help you stay on track with your diet during the Christmas festivities and for the year ahead, we interviewed Charlotte Joosen – a Belgian chef who creates meals for fellow Belgian Raf Simons, Dior’s creative director, and his team. In this post, Charlotte, who we met at the Dior Haute Couture show in Paris last summer, shares her food philosophy and some of her favorite recipes.
What is your cooking style or food philosophy?
When I started cooking professionally, I aimed for the nostalgic kitchen. I was inspired by the stew that grandma used to make, my aunt’s famous apple pie, my mother’s best ever mashed potatoes and ‘the’ Italian spaghetti bolognese that my friend’s father would make. It’s those meals with a special memory behind them, the food that we can never get enough of. I adapt the recipes to be more healthy by adding lots of steamed vegetables and creating vegetarian alternatives. For example, instead of ice cream, I would serve the apple pie with a fresh yogurt sauce.
What is your favorite new food trend?
Of all the new food trends, I like seasonal eating the most. We are all so spoiled when it comes to eating strawberries in winter, or asparagus all year round, that we don’t know anymore what nature suggests every season. Fruit and vegetables just taste so much better when it’s their moment.
What is your favorite winter dish?
In winter, I love a good casserole, it’s such a Belgian thing. Think mashed potatoes with crisp fried minced meat and bacon, cauliflower, and a bit of cheese on top… a real sin!
What should everyone know about eating right?
Here are my five rules that will help you get through the Holiday season and find more balance in how you eat daily.
- If we are talking about homemade food, you can eat everything, but in small portions.
- Instead of the non-fat versions of butter, cream or cheese, which are full of additives, go for the real deal, but in smaller amounts.
- Don’t eat meat every day, but if you do, enjoy it! Buy a good piece of meat – it might be more expensive, but the taste is so much better. You don’t want to know what they have done with meat to make it cheaper.
- If you buy prepared meals, canned foods, or cookies, realize that they are full of colorings and preservatives. Check the ingredients on the package, and you will be amazed at all the things they put in it. A cake needs only a few ingredients to make, not fifteen plus a bunch of products to keep it fresh, juicy and pretty. Make it yourself!
- Allow yourself to sin once in a while, just make sure you control the size of your indulgence.
What is your most memorable career moment, so far?
Cooking for Raf [Raf Simons] and his team! During the preparation week for his fashion show, I’m asked to cook for him and his team. They work 16 hours a day (or more) and they need a good meal, 4 (!) times a day. It has to be not too heavy, something that gives them energy but at the same time has that comforting element. They have a big square table for 20 people, but if there are guests, Raf always invites them to stay for lunch or dinner, and everybody moves their chairs until all the guests fit. Raf insists that everybody eats together, and he takes the time to relax and talk about other things. That’s what I’m all about! Eating brings people together in a moment to relax and enjoy life.
Check out Charlotte’s website at www.charlotteskitchen.be.