Published on December 1st, 2020 | by James Drew0
‘Hope springs eternal’ say Brussels business partners
There is a saying that “hope springs eternal” and, with Belgium still in the throes of its second lockdown from the crisis, we all need some of that right now, writes Martin Banks.
In fact, “hope” is the name of an inventive new concept by Brussels business partners Filippo La Vecchia and Cedric Gilot.
The novel idea, ideal as it comes just before Christmas, is simple: tins of quality carnaroli rice which you turn into a lovely risotto from the comfort of your own home.
You do this by scanning the code on the tin which then gives you access to a video and full cooking instructions.
It allows you to cook the risotto along with Filippo, an Italian chef of some renown in Brussels.
The name he and Cedric have given the product is, for them, highly symbolic.
“We have called it hope because, for most of us, that is all we have left right now,” Filippo told this website.
“People might understand we put in the tin the only thing we got left…hope.”
The original concept follows a trend set by others in different parts of the world, says Filippo.
“Great chefs from all over the world have reinvented their dishes and recipes by using the strangest ingredients from plankton and krill to microalgae.Some have also used edible insects, ranging from Amazonian ants to grasshoppers and beetles.”
But Filippo and Cedric’s idea aims to be different again.
“It is a jar containing 250gr of, well, hope,” says Filippo, adding, “you could call it a slight provocation for our politicians here who, in the opinion of many in the horeca business, are not helping at all in this COVID crisis.
“The idea could also possibly be seen as a sort of ‘protest’ against the government in the way it has acted specifically towards the horeca sector in Belgium in these dark times. Restaurants always seem to be the first to shut and the last to reopen during the pandemic. Why?
“The crisis has had a devastating impact on the sector and some have been forced out of business altogether. We are still managing, fortunately.”
There is also a charitable aspect to their unusual initiative, as some of the proceeds from sales of the Hope product will go towards an association here which helps children in need.
With its upbeat, optimistic name, the ‘Hope’ product could also make for an unusual stocking filler this Christmas.
It is not the only culinary product available from Le Cave, a small Italian deli shop the two men run alongside the highly regarded Osteria Romana restaurant, just off Avenue Louise in Brussels. There is also a “make your own carbonara” kit that contains pasta, pork cheek, cheese,pepper and even an egg that you take home and cook. Other Italian classics may soon be available as well.
Many of the authentic ingredients are sourced directly from Sicily and the shop itself sells other items such as olive oil, pasta and sauces.
“During lockdown we have had to be even more creative than usual, hence we came up with the ‘Hope’ idea,” adds Cedric. “It is symbolic as much as anything but we think customers will like it.”
This is all specifically designed to help people enjoy good quality Italian food at home while restaurants remain shut – and also to help generate much needed income for the business.
Filippo and Cedric, who have run the business at 11/13 Avenue Legrand for several years, are also maintaining a takeaway service while the restaurant, renowned for serving some of the best pasta in town, remains closed.
The menu is naturally not as extensive as normal but still features some nice options. As is the shop,the takeaway is available three nights each week: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“The takeaway service is doing OK but, of course, it cannot replace what we were doing before in the restaurant so we hope restaurants like ours will soon be able to reopen,” says Filippo.
“For now, we are just trying to give people a chance to reproduce in their own home what they might have experienced before in the restaurant.”
With ‘Hope’ it is easy to see why Filippo and Cedric are “hoping” that things will soon improve!