We went to Le Pan to wine and dine, and to meet Guest chef Sergio Herman, who created his light, delicate modern-European cuisine in which the ingredients – particularly seafood and vegetables – are the stars.
This summer, in the Dutch seaside resort of Cadzand-Bad, Herman – an Insta-star with almost 175,000 followers – opens his third restaurant, the Japanese-inspired Blueness. The two-Michelin-star The Jane, which he opened in a converted Antwerp chapel in 2014, is another of his cool ventures.
As he was in town, we swung by to sample his food and ask him for a few tips on how to throw the perfect dinner party.
Dinner parties: casual/formal?
I like things to be casual when I’m entertaining at home. After so many years as a chef working in high-end restaurants, you often crave casual, everyday food for yourself. A dinner party is a chance to relax with friends and family. I’m always thinking about work, about what I need to do and create next, so it’s a welcome chance to clear my mind.
What would be on your playlist?
Techno. My favourite artiste is DJ and music producer Solomun.
A must-have dish for any dinner party?
Langoustines simply grilled on the barbecue with pepper salt and lemon peel. Sometimes I might do a nice fish in the oven, with salad; or a simple pasta dish. My wife cooks at family dinners, but when I have friends over I cook for them.
Your three favourite Asian dishes?
That’s a tough question, as I haven’t done enough travelling in Asia to discover all the great dishes of each country. My guest appearance at Le Pan (on May 29-31) was only my second visit to Hong Kong, and I’ve been to Singapore once. I need to come back!
I like dim sum (we ate lunch at Dynasty Garden, in Goldin Financial Global Centre, the same building as Le Pan), and I had some good street food in this area (Kowloon East), including aubergine with garlic, which was fantastic. I love aubergine, particularly Japanese style with miso; I also like ramen with pork and boiled egg.
What are your must-try restaurants in Hong Kong?
On my previous visit four years ago I had very good meals at Yardbird and Ronin. This time we’re dining at Le Pan to enjoy Chef Edward Voon’s style of Contemporary French cuisine. There are so many great restaurants in this city, of course, so I rely on insiders like Edward to share where they go for the best local food.
What’s the secret to hosting the perfect dinner party?
As the host/cook you need to plan a menu that doesn’t require you staying in the kitchen all night! Choose food that can either be prepared beforehand or popped into the oven, so you have time to relax and enjoy the evening with your friends. When I was younger I wanted to make special dishes for my guests, but then I hardly got to sit down with them. Now I choose simple but good comfort food. Being able to have these moments with friends is very important.
Any particular Dutch traditions at dinner parties?
I’m Dutch but I’m now living in Belgium, and it’s interesting how the two countries differ in their approach to fine food and living. Good food is intrinsic to the Belgians; every day they want to enjoy the best with wine and champagne. This is not the case in the Netherlands, though it’s a trend that’s growing.
If you could invite any three people to your dinner party, who would they be?
First of all, I’d want to have my family and close friends there, because as a chef I don’t get to spend as many hours in the day with them as I’d like. But if we’re talking about famous people, then Damien Hirst. My other wish-list guests are no longer possible – David Bowie and Anthony Bourdain. They were amazing talents whom I would have loved to have invited to my home.Anton Corbijn, the Dutch photographer, knew Bowie – and I kept saying to Anton please invite him and his friends to my restaurant so I could cook for them. Sadly, it never happened.