Eat & Drink

Published on May 23rd, 2022 | by Brussels In View

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Rising star makes culinary waves at new Brussels resto

It’s always nice to acclaim a rising star and one such person is Fela Herzog.

He’s the chef at “Joseph”, a new restaurant in Brussels and is really making waves in the culinary trade.

Fela is possibly the first person you’ll see if you pay a visit to this very pleasant eatery.

His work station – the kitchen – is located directly at the entrance so you can’t miss him as you enter.

He’ll probably be too busy to stop and natter though as his focus is very much on producing some very tasty dishes from his open plan kitchen.

 The restaurant has only been open a few months and, along with the four-strong “management” team, Fela is one of the reasons for its success.

Still only 31, his backstory is particularly fascinating and just about as eclectic as it gets. He was born in Kenya and has lived for spells in Venice, Barcelona and North Carolina. He worked in the kitchen at a five star hotel in Milan before moving to Brussels where he worked at a vegan restaurant.

His cooking skills could have been lost to the sector as he studied to be an airline pilot. He didn’t pursue that as a career and, having opted for the culinary trade, his fortunes really are now taking off.

Alex Joseph, one of the four owners at Joseph, remembers being impressed by Fela as soon as he interviewed him for the job.

Fela, as a kind of trial, cooked Alex a 5 course meal and, after a short chat Alex was convinced he and his partners had got their man.

Alex says: “He’s truly amazing and I want to see him grow and see his potential come to fruition.”

On the “secret of his success”, Fela told this website, “I am still trying to really define my own style but you could say it is a sort of mix of inspirations.”

The restaurant had a false start as it was due to open last autumn. Due to the renovation work that was still needed, the opening took place just before last Christmas. You could call it an early Christmas present to people of Brussels.

The actual idea came originally after a conversation between two others involved in Joseph. John Karwan and Thierry Naoum, two good friends who’d known each for nearly 40 years.

John, who (as now) owned his own business in Uccle, was keen to “reinvent” himself and came up with the idea of opening a new restaurant. He ran the idea past Thierry who shared his enthusiasm for such a project.

After spotting a possible site for such a place, work soon got going on transforming what was a slightly rundown bar in Place Chatelain into is, now, a very pleasant and comfortable restaurant.

Says John, “I got the idea during lockdown and it has been a real adventure, not least for me, but I very proud of what has been achieved here.”

So, along with a fourth partner, Alain Bau, John, Thierry and Alex took what was  a slight risk in opening a new restaurant in the wake of the terrible health pandemic that forced the closure of lots of restaurants.

Their new venture, though, is doing well and fast acquiring a reputation for good food.

The menu is relatively short but inventive and consists of some lovely dishes. To start, there’s a selection of tapas-style offerings that are best shared and, for mains, you can take your pick from beef cheek, lamb shank (probably Fela’s signature dish) and T-bone steak. There’s also a choice of either two small beef or veggie burgers.

A couple of fish options include gambas and octopus while there’s a small choice of nice deserts and a particularly impressive (and very long) drinks/wine list.

The set up here is also like a mini United Nations: Thierry (who oversaw much of the redesigned interior) is from Morocco, John from Belgium, Alex was born in California and Alain hails from Asia.

Outside of the new resto, each of the four has their own business and expertise and this, believes John, is one reason for its success so far.

“There are no egos here and we have a lot of trust in each other. It is what you might call a ‘love thing’ and we are doing this out of love.”

The restaurant can seat about 42 people inside and also has a terrace. It is closed on Monday and Sunday.

Joseph
Pl du Chatelain 47, Ixelles
T. +32 (0)468 0764

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