February 3, 2016 / 7:39 PM / 3 years ago

Belgian star chef says winning famous blog's top award unexpected

KRUISHOUTEM, Belgium (Reuters) - Belgian chef Peter Goossens already holds three Michelin stars for the small restaurant he runs in the Flemish countryside, but said he never expected it to be voted the best in the world by the influential global restaurant blog wbpstars.com.

Belgian chef Peter Goossens (L) cooks in his three Michelin stars restaurant "Hof van Cleve" in Kruishoutem, south of the city of Ghent, Belgium February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Goossens opened his restaurant “Hof van Cleve”, south of the city of Ghent, 25 years ago. Apart from his Michelin stars, he also holds 19.5 out of a possible 20 points from French restaurant guide Gault Millau.

Wbpstars.com, which was founded in 2011 by a group of food critics from Sweden and Denmark who grew unsatisfied with existing ways of rating restaurants, gave his restaurant 94 out of a possible 100 points.

“I never expected this but it has been my aim from the start to make a top notch product,” Gossens told Reuters.

Wbpstars.com has about 25 restaurant reviewers around the world. Restaurants are given scores between 0 and 100 through multiple anonymous visits in which the opinions of diners are also taken into account.

“From the amuse bouches to the final petits fours, every single dish will create a big smile on your face,” the wbpstars.com review said when it awarded him the title last month.

Well-known in Belgium for his role as a judge on the local version of “Master Chef”, Goossens’s menu at “Hof van Cleve” focuses on local produce such as vegetables grown at nearby farms.

His own favorites include the Belgian endive, Belgian white asparagus as well as fish from the North Sea and local varieties of game.

“We serve fish from the North Sea, vegetables from this region, we will never work with a red mullet, for example, because it’s a fish from the South. We only use local products,” Goossens said.

Goossens still strictly observes the lunch and dinner services at Hof van Cleve every day and, unlike other celebrity chefs, has no other restaurants.

With seating limited to 45 places and 11 tables, reservations have to be made months in advance, especially on weekends.

Writing by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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