Hendrik - landscape

Ambassador of GOESTING

Hendrik - portret
Hendrik Dierendonck

Hendrik Dierendonck

Tasty meat with a good story, that’s what Hendrik Dierendonck sells in his butcher shops. Hendrik grew up in his father’s butcher shop and gained his love of butchery at a young age. “I learned that every part of the animal deserves respect. That’s why I’m such a strong supporter of the nose-to-tail principle. Scraps that are usually considered waste can be delicious if prepared well. That can be as simple as blood sausage served with fried apples or as sophisticated as crispy fritters filled with creamy calf’s brains.”

Meat as a delicacy

“As a butcher in this rapidly changing world, I’m the first to say we should be eating less, but higher quality, meat. I believe that in a few years’ time, we will no longer add meat to our daily sandwiches unthinkingly, but instead savour it as a delicacy.

Putting meat back on its rightful pedestal is my goal. Good meat is full of flavour; a small portion should already be enough to satisfy.

In Carcasse, my restaurant, we don’t serve big hunks of meat. That way our customers can consciously focus on the differences between breeds and amounts of ageing. Every dish is also accompanied by at least three types of seasonal vegetables, which are at least as remarkable as the meat.” 


Respect for terroir and history

"As a butcher in this rapidly changing world, I’m the first to say we should be eating less, but higher quality, meat."

In Flanders, Hendrik is known as the saviour of Belgian Red cattle. Together with some stubborn farmers, he worked to save this authentic breed from extinction. He decided to go all-in on terroir in his butcher’s shop and the flavourful dual-purpose breed fit this goal very well. “Thanks to our efforts to raise our customers’ interest, the Belgian Red population has grown from 800 to nearly 4,000 animals. These deep-red cows live a bit longer than usual before slaughtering. That produces slightly tougher meat, so we like to age it first. The ageing makes the beef nice and tender and adds complexity too. In this way, we provide added value for this local breed. Flemish chefs also helped to promote the cause. They were immediately enthusiastic about the flavour and proudly featured Belgian Red beef on their menus.”

Meanwhile, Hendrik has tackled a new, ambitious project that is also all about terroir. In collaboration with Ghent University and a local farmer, he has resurrected an ancient Flemish breed of pigs. “We crossed various breeds in an attempt to recreate these historic Flemish pigs, the hams of which were being exported to destinations as far away as Rome two thousand years ago. We based our experiments on information from archaeological digs. Menapian pigs have firmly textured, nicely marbled flesh. A touch of wild boar in the mix adds gaminess. We age the meat as well, which is unusual for pork. However, this is such great meat with a nice layer of fat it works very well. The result is a nutty piece of meat with lots of character.”

The butcher as storyteller

“Meat from animals raised with such care comes at a price, of course. We use high-quality feed and allow them to grow at their own pace. That’s why I’m as much a storyteller as I am a butcher. Customers need to understand why good meat costs more. Luckily, the flavour speaks for itself and once they’ve had a taste, they’re convinced.”

Follow us on @GOESTING in Flanders