Even if the new generation seems less connected to gastronomy and/or pays attention to its line, the men (and women) politicians appreciate to sit down at the table. Rarely in a fast-food restaurant but rather a place that allows discreet asides and, as long as you do, enjoy the good dishes of the chefs.
In the age of social networks and images per minute, it’s not easy not to be spotted. Unless the intention is to be seen. Let’s obviously ignore private meetings, that’s none of our business. While informal and “secret” meetings sometimes take place at party headquarters or in ministerial cabinets, a restaurant table appears as a more convivial, less formal and above all neutral place.
Even if the last interview between famous politicians was played at home last May for Bart De Wever, president of the N-VA, and his alter ego of Vooruit Conner Rousseau. This is the address, recently starred by the Michelin guide SUN diningwhich hosted this caucus which could well lead to a major political agreement in Flanders in 2024.
Proof if there is one that the center of gravity of the country tends to deviate from Brussels. If such meetings have always taken place, certain tables have marked the history of black-yellow-red politics. No one has forgotten the face-to-face meeting in a private room on the first floor of Chez Bruneaua well-known address in the north of the capital, between Bart De Wever, at the time infrequent (that has changed a lot…) and Didier Reynders, then president of the MR, in September 2010.
On the menu: not just Mechelen coucous or chocolate profiteroles (it was the time of the well-coated De Wever) but yet another state reform. Now relieved of his duty of reserve, Jean-Pierre Bruneau, the retired three-starred chef, can reveal the negotiations that took place upstairs in his restaurant.
“The De Wever-Reynders meeting, which was also attended by Louis Michel, was historic. They wanted the utmost discretion in a private room. I briefed the service staff not to caff. It took 8 days for the info to come out. The restaurant is a neutral ground but that brings a more positive atmosphere. Several governments were formed at my place: Di Rupo, Verhofstadt… They often booked Sunday lunch and finished very late.“
If the art of the table can soften the atmosphere without necessarily softening the positions, politicians must also be wary of the image they send back. Nicolas Sarkozy, barely elected President of the Republic, had displayed a too bling-bling victory with stars and people galore in the very chic Fouquet’s on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Emmanuel Macron had understood the lesson by being content with a dinner at the Rotonde, a historic table in the Montparnasse district.