'Haute cuisine is a male-dominated world'
Her combination of ingredients like caramel and goat’s cheese and her penchant for growing her own regional produce has always characterised her quirky approach to her craft and has now earned Ann De Roy the title of Ladychef of the Year. Despite her daring take on her dishes, she is modest of heart, althoug she has every reason to be proud. A genuine talent in every sense, De Roy had no formal training in a cookery school as her parents thought “It’s not really something for a girl,” she says. “My eldest brother Kris attended cookery school from the age of twelve. On weekends I would listen to his tales or assist him in the kitchen. His passion was addictive, but at the time the combination cookery school and girls was not obvious at all.” So she decided to study graphic design. “After a few years I had enough of sitting down. I had to express my creativity and use my hands.” De Roy and her husband started their culinary adventure with a little café in Geraardsbergen, but her delicious array of tapas became so popular that an extension soon followed. Today her restaurant Pand 19 boasts two promising forks in the Michelin guide and a rating of 13 out of 20 in the prestigious Gault&Millau. Her secret? The honest product kitchen currently so popular among young chefs. And, of course, a continuous quest to do more and to do it better and be innovative. The question now remains whether awarding female chefs separately makes sense. “I think so,” says De Roy. “Haute cuisine has always been a male thing. A female category could give women who aspire to become a chef but are held back by this male dominated world that extra boost they need.”