Chef Meteor, 30


A Return to Terroir

Photographed by Frederik Vercruysse
Written by Toon Anthoni

Maarten Van Essche and his wife Tine Claerhout opened their restaurant Meteor in the old parsonage, next to their own house. The feeling you get when entering Meteor is that of peace and homeliness. The smell of the fire from the kitchen, the old staircase and original floors, the candles and dried flowers on the table, the stacked logs against the walls, the high ceilings with their classic moldings and the open doors that offer a view from the kitchen to the dining room. Serenity amid beautifully rumpled linen tablecloths and unfinished walls.


This was the starting point of what Maarten calls terroir cuisine, the creation of dishes based on products that are available at that particular time in your own region. “You look out your window and what you see happening out there, you put on the plate. In winter, the hare runs through the fields while the turnips are being harvested. And so it fits together. It makes sense. That is terroir cuisine.”


Terroir is usually associated with wine, but it can apply to everything that grows in the ground. And terroir can also shine through in the ripening and fermentation of products, one of Maarten’s passions. Above the worktop in the kitchen are a series of glass jars with labels that read ‘burnt shallot oil’, ‘vodka pear’ and ‘blue pine vinegar’, to name a few.

Chef Meteor, 12

“It’s also a good way to not let anything go to waste. In summer there are field flowers. They serve as decoration for a week and then we hang half of them up in the garage. The other half we use to make flower vinegar. When there are no fresh flowers in winter, we take out the dried ones. The vinegar is used in the kitchen. This way you give the same product two extra lives.”