People of the world! Every boy and every girl: In the lead up to our second annual Hot & Spicy Festival on Apr 20-21, we’re Spicing Up Our Lives with a few of the vendors to see what searing treats they’ll be doling out at the rapidly approaching fine spring weekend. This time: Clement Rol, head chef and operations manager of De Refter.
Their name may come from the Dutch word for ‘refectory’ but there is nothing holier-than-thou about De Refter. Located in the popular Courtyard 4, they have been breaking the rule book about traditional brasserie food since they opened, serving up delicious Chinese-Belgian fusion grub and a wide range of imported brews to thirsty Sanlitun customers. Since first reviewing them back in July 2018, we’ve been impressed firstly by their huge, comfortable terrace (perfect for balmy nights) and secondly by their innovative and delicious gua bao, which successfully puts a modern ‘Chinese burger’ twist on the traditional Taiwanese street snack.
In preparation for this weekend’s Hot & Spicy Festival, Clement Rol, head chef and operations manager has been hard at it in the kitchen, whipping up some extra special eats and sharing his tips and advice on surviving the fiery inferno…
Did you attend last year’s Hot & Spicy Festival? If so, what did you think was the best part about last year’s event?
Yes, we had a booth at last year’s Hot & Spicy Festival, it was a really good experience where we had the chance to meet new customers and other F&B professionals. My favorite dish was the spicy burrito from Q Mex.
In your opinion, what are the most important elements that help make great spicy food?
I believe that the most important is to balance the flavors so the spice doesn’t cover the taste of the other ingredients.
Tell us about the spicy food you will bring to our Hot & Spicy Festival and name three reasons why it’s unique and potentially the best spicy dish in Beijing.
We’ve prepared three special recipes for this year’s festival: two baos and one loaded Belgian fries. The first bao is an extra-spicy, festival-only version of one of our best sellers, the Saigon BAO, which is filled with a thick chicken thigh and seasoned with sweet chili and a special Hunan pepper mayonnaise. The second bao is our twist on the burger; its beef patty is filled with melting cheddar and topped with caramelized onions, Dijon mustard, and mala mayonnaise.
What drink from your menu will go best with your spicy food?
We highly recommend the Chimay Gold; it’s a light Trappist beer and has refreshing aromas of hops and spices.
When did your love of spicy food begin?
My love for spicy food started when I arrived in China and discovered dishes from Hunan and Sichuan. I wasn’t that much into spicy food before but these two cuisines made me love it!
In your opinion, which country in the world has the best spicy food and why?
India is for me the country where you can find the best spicy food. The variety of existing spices and recipes is what I love the most about it.
What is the spiciest thing you have ever eaten? Would you recommend other people to eat it?
The spiciest food I have had is Hunanese food, which in my opinion is the spiciest food in China. Be careful though, you might need to take a day off on the next day!
Name three things about this year’s Hot & Spicy Festival that you’re looking forward to.
We are really looking forward to sharing our new recipes with the visitors, taste the culinary creations from other vendors, and of course, watch the Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest!
Do you have any tips or tricks for eating spicy for that might help the competitors in our Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest?
Many people think that eating bread helps a lot, but our baos are even better at lowering the spicy effect!
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
We are at booth #18 and we will have some surprises for all our visitors…
Haven’t got your tickets to this weekend’s Hot & Spicy Festival yet? Buy them online, here.
Images courtesy of De Refter