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a spoonful of sun and tomato

  • Writer's picturestevendesair

Why Dierendonck is now also selling the Passata from the starred Chefs

Updated: Aug 21, 2023


"Belgian tomatoes are damn tasty"


Three Belgian entrepreneurs with a passion for good food are joining forces. Their mission: to pay tribute to the Belgian tomato and, in the process, show that the food system can be different. "It's up to us, entrepreneurs engaged in food, to work towards a better world."


You think you know what passata is and how tomatoes taste? Chances are your perception has been clouded by the industrial versions of it. This is proven by ceci est passata, an artisanal tomato sauce that simply cannot be compared to anything you've tasted before.


The finest tomatoes



Throughout the year, you can find something resembling a tomato in the store. But real sun-ripened tomatoes bursting with flavor and their sweet juice dribbling down your chin? Those only grow when summer is at its peak: starting now! The fact that this can even happen in Belgium is evidenced by Dries Delanote at his organic farm Monde de Mille Couleurs.

When asked to compare his tomatoes to the average supermarket variety, he chuckles. "Last winter, we had to turn down the heating because gas was so expensive," he says, "yet people were still eating tomatoes grown in heated greenhouses, fed only water and added chemicals. Doesn't that seem wrong? I believe in eating what nature provides us. Our tomatoes gain their strength from fertile soil and sunlight."
Dries Delanote: "The time of pointing fingers at the consumer and, for example, blaming them for not knowing that there are no tomatoes in April, is truly over. It's up to us, entrepreneurs like us three and everyone else engaged in food, to work towards a better world."

The only problem with growing according to nature, according to Dries, is that your harvest comes "in waves". What to do if, during one of these tomato explosions at the height of summer, all your regular customers are on vacation? Simple: if life gives you tomatoes, make passata.




The finest passata


That's where Steven Desair comes in, a social entrepreneur whose heart beats for ecological eating. His company Eatmosphere challenges the food system with tasty experiments. One of them is ceci est passata, a tomato sauce so pure that even Michelin-starred chefs swear by it. Nicolas Decloedt of Humus x Hortense, for instance, noted after the first bite that Belgian tomatoes are "damn tasty."

"But few people know the taste of real passata," says Steven Desair. "We start with the best, sustainably grown tomatoes. Then we process them locally and artisanally, preserving their flavor. In our passata, you taste the landscape, the terroir. Every choice we make demonstrates that it can be different in our food system."

The finest butcher


This message doesn't fall on deaf ears for meat sommelier Hendrik Dierendonck, who highlights the craft of butchery.


"I've been taught from a young age that nothing should go to waste. Every piece of meat must be respected. After all, an animal has died for it, and a farmer has worked hard. This sustainability philosophy led me to Steven. And Dries already supplied Carcasse, it's a small world. When Steven told me about ceci est passata, it quickly became clear that I wanted to support it too." Hendrik Dierendonck: "Quality products cost more than industrially produced food because they're completely differently made, resulting in a completely different product. My meat comes from animals that lived longer, which means the farmer had higher costs, and it was processed with a lot of manual labor in the old-fashioned way. I've been conveying this message for twenty years. And just when you start getting tired of it, you have to keep telling it, because that's when customers finally start to understand."

That's why Hendrik added passata to the menu at his Michelin-starred restaurant Carcasse and now in every Dierendonck location.

"Sometimes we need to convince people to try ceci est passata because of the higher price, but once they've bought it once, they keep coming back for it. After trying it once, you won't settle for supermarket tomato sauce anymore. This is convenience, but of high quality. You don't need to do much to create a delicious meal, just add your own touch. That's what I did for our fennel ragù recipe too."

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