I had the honor of witnessing Chef Kevin Storms give a classic, Southern American side dish a Flemish twist. And the results were mouth watering.
Chef Kevin of the vegetarian hotspot in Ghent, Restaurant Avalon.
Being from the South, I have the right to be a Hush Puppy snob. So when I saw that apple was going into the batter… along with broccoli… and red onion (okay, red onion totally makes sense)… I had serious misgivings and an air of Southern superiority could be detected in the kitchen.
But when Chef dropped the mixture into hot oil and the smell of frying batter hit my nostrils, a ray of hope hit my stomach. And as Chef lifted the fryer basket to reveal tiny, perfectly fried, golden morsels… I lost my snobbery and that sense of excitement as a child sitting in a backseat as they go through a drive through, immediately gripped me.
I was proved wrong… and I can admit that. The hush puppies were a perfect balance of savory and sweet and the crispness was spot on. The mustard and maple dipping sauce only brought it to the next level- ‘Glori-Fried’!
- Name: Kevin Storms
- Age: 35
- Place of Birth: Antwerp, Belgium
How did your culinary career begin?
Cooking has always been around, from early on at home. Throughout my studies, I worked with catering companies and finally a career in healthy cooking came through a shiatsu course where macrobiotic cooking was involved. I became interested and very quickly it took a high flight and then I started cooking at the East West Center in Orval.
How would you describe Restaurant Avalon?
Avalon is an organic, vegetarian lunchroom. We create a daily menu with what’s in season and what the land has to offer, most people order the day menu. Foremost, we want food to taste good and to give satisfaction. Our aim will always be to cook for a broad spectrum of people.
If you set off sail on a voyage, what food items and culinary tools could I expect to find in your kitchen galley?
Setting off for a trip… a nice sourdough bread sandwich with homemade hummus, salad and pickles always comforts me like nothing. I feel safe if I have a vegetable knife, a lemon and some parsley around. If I have to cook, a small bottle of toasted sesame oil was in my last luggage.
Any future plans you’d like to share?
I’d love to start an a la carte restaurant in Ghent one day.
Hush Puppies with Mustard Maple Sauce.
Music Pairing (Chef Kevin’s Pick): Neil Young, “Southern Man”
Ingredients: Hush Puppies
- 3/4 cup corn flour
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup even mix of : small diced red onion, small apple cubes, small broccoli florets
- 3/4 cup soy milk
- Oil for frying (choose one with a high smoke point)
- In one bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, sea salt and black pepper and combine with a whisk.
- Add the soy milk and stir. The consistency should be very thick.
- Fold in the vegetables with a spatula and gently incorporate.
- Scoop inch size balls of the batter into deep-fry oil that has been heated to 175 ºC (347 ºF). Fry until golden brown and cooked all the way through, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Serve with Mustard Maple Dipping Sauce.
Ingredients: Mustard Maple Dipping Sauce
- 6 tablespoons good quality mustard
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- In a bowl, whisk the mustard and maple syrup together.
- Slowly whisk in the olive oil and combine until blended well.