New York (3) – Moving day

After 1 week together with Marjorie, I moved to an apartment in Brooklyn.
Well, a room in an apartment, in one of those very pretty brownstones.
We were living on the top floor and my room was about the size of my room in boarding school. This was New York City living in it’s purest form.

2 days after I moved in, I got sick. I had a fever.
That’s when it hit me, that I really moved abroad, by myself.
I stayed in, watched Gossip Girl, made 20 cups of tea and a large bowl of fruit salad.
After 2 days, I started to feel better again and decided to go out and explore.
Staying in wasn’t going to help me chasing my dreams.

The first days, I stayed mainly in the close area.
Where was the supermarket, laundromat, pharmacy, coffee shop and bar.
I also had to get familiar with the public transportation.
Real New Yorkers take the train. Not the subway.

Before I came to New York, my mother made an introduction with a Belgian couple that lived in Brooklyn. They had 2 kids and invited me over for dinner later that week.
Pieter and Charlotte showed me the difference between the coins, asked me if I could babysit the kiddo’s every once in a while and kind of adopted me for the time being.

It was great to speak Dutch again for a second. It made me feel less of a stranger.

XO – Ann

Photo credit – Pinterest

New York (2) – The Tourist

Februari 22 2015
The day I turned 25. I had dinner with my best friends in Antwerp.
Everything was packed, I was ready to go on this new adventure.
Februari 25 – all passengers proceed to gate 35 to JFK International Airport.

Marjorie, one of my friends joined me.
New York was listed high on her list and decided to tag along the first week.

It was February, cold and the city just got hit by a snowstorm.
We checked in into our hotel in Brooklyn and decided to discover the area a little bit.
The Brooklyn Bridge was a 10 minute walk away.
We were all dressed up and headed towards Manhattan.
That view of the skyline was the confirmation of the exciting time I had in front of me.

I didn’t had a plan, I only knew this was where I wanted to be.
I had 90 days in this urban jungle and wanted to make the most out of it.

My former colleagues had bought me this city guide, Be NY by Patrick van Roosendaal.
Not your usual city guide but 10 people that were telling their story about the city.
We decided to follow in their foot steps and made our way into the city.

Xo – Ann

Photo credit – Pinterest

Oud Sluis (4) – Work hard, play harder …

Sergio always called it: ‘We play the finals in the FIFA world cup, twice a day!’
So after 5 days of hard work, we could enjoy our weekends.
And every 10 weeks, we would get 2 weeks vacation.
We were treated very well by our boss!

Working together creates strong teams.
So somedays we would even hang out together during the weekends.
Our weekend started on Monday 2am and just like everybody else, we would have after-work drinks.

I remember the nights at table 10.
It was the round table in front of the fire place.
Nick, the sous chef was really good at creating bonds and making time for the team after a rough service. We could have an argument about the food during the service, in the evening, we would still have an ice cold beer at table 10.

I cannot even remember the amount of times we stayed on Sundays until Monday morning the cleaning lady would come in. Laughing, joking, making plans or just chatting. ‘Good morning Lilian!’
That’s where we decided to drive to Paris the next week.
Just because Paris was only a 4 hour drive away.
Or when we organized a field trip to go hunting ducks during fall season.
One of our regular guests had a hunting club and invited us to join the team one day in December. Nick made an amazing platter with rillettes and stew of the game we caught for snack night that Friday after!

Or when we all gathered to go out dancing in La Rocca on Sunday.
Joris Voorn, Pan Pot, Laurent Garnier, Sfin, …
I got to know a lot of great DJ’s and night clubs because of them!

Most of our vacations, we made trips in Europe.
To Madeira, to learn about Madeira, a fortified wine made on the Portuguese Island off the coast of Africa. Or Santorini to visit wine makers and enjoy the beautiful sunset!
Weekends in Amsterdam, Paris or London.
And working in fine dining restaurants has it’s perks too.
All the good places for breakfast, lunch and dinner are being shared amongst each other!

So when me and my sister went to New York for a city trip, we had a whole list of must-visit places in our pocket. That’s when I fell in love with the city and made myself the promise to live for 1 year in New York. To discover all it’s hidden gems and to experience what living in a metropolitan city does to you as a person…

Xo – Ann

Experiencing the field …

Gaining experience in the field is the first step in learning the ropes.
During my time in school, I started to work during the weekends in the bakery down the street and I helped in the banquet hall in town when they had large wedding parties.
I wanted to submerge myself as much as possible in the industry.

Internships were also included during the culinary art program.
So my first year, I interned in a gastronomic restaurant in Spain in the kitchen. I was in charge of the preparations of vegetables and fish and during the service, all of the desserts came from my station.

Being away from home for 6 weeks in a country where I didn’t speak the language was my first big test. But nomads will always find a way.

Luckily enough, the restaurant was owned by a very European family. The patron came from Belgium, his wife from The Netherlands. Their son ran the kitchen and was married to an Italian lady. Imagine the amount of different languages we could use in 1 sentence!

My second internship was in a Michelin star restaurant closely by my home town.
My knowledge of the front of house had to level up to keep up. Michelin star restaurants are being held to very high standards and consistency is key.

I discovered that I thrive better in high quality environments.
No wonder I requested my sommelier internship in De Karmeliet, a 3 Michelin star restaurant with one of the most impressive wine lists I had ever seen!
I was beyond excited to see they had ‘my wine’ Meursault Perrieres by Coche Dury!
If only we could sell one bottle … I would be able to taste it!

I had shared my obsession about this bottle and it turned out that my prayers were being heard!
So one night, it was a Saturday, I was in charge of the small dining area, Benoit, the head sommelier, came to me:
‘Ann, I have a surprise for you downstairs in the wine cellar. I’ll take care of your section for a second. Go and let me know what you think about it.”

And there is was, a glass of wine with a little bit of Meursault Perrieres from Coche Dury.
I was surrounded by around 500 bottles of wine, all of the best in the world, sipping the wine that represented the point it all started for me.
My hospitality fire inside lit up and created a memory nobody ever could erase!

Xo – Ann

The People :: Mom and Dad …

If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive today.

And I feel so blessed with them!
When I said: Mom, one day, I want to have my own restaurant, my mom said: That’s fine Ann. Let’s find you the best school to learn about that!

One of the things I learned from my mom and dad was: You buy bread at the bakery, meat is coming from the butcher. If you jump on your bike and take a ride around the farms, you will see how wheat grows, how apples grow on trees and that fruit and vegetables come with the seasons.

Quality over quantity.
My mom raised 4 kids – practically by herself while my dad was working in his own company. The time spend together was invaluable for us. Quality over Quantity.

They really shaped me into the person I am today.
I guess you can say I inherited my mom’s nomad soul.
Always wandering, always on for a new adventure.
She took us to the Zoo, to the beach, on the train, to gym classes and recital.

My dad taught me, and made me understand, how working hard pays the bills.
Yet, they made it a priority to share a meal at the dinner table – sometimes 3 times a day, together as a family.

Mom, dad, Thank you for all you’ve done for us.

Xo – Ann

Photo credit – Pinterest

Start with the beginning …

Today, I made the decision to start my own business.
I feel like I’m ready for it.
It scares the hell out of me, because are we ever just ready?
I’m starting my own Hospitality Costumer Service Consultancy.

How did I get to this? That has been quite a ride.
A ride that I will be sharing with you, here online.

Start with the beginning …
Because the Hosted By Ann blog will be the beginning of something new and exciting!

So hop on board, join the movement,
Start the change, be the change!

And let’s start creating possibilities together!

Xo – Ann