Belgian National Day in Beijing

Yes on 21 July

For many years Belgian National Day in Beijing was shifted to 15 November, King’s Day because of the summer holidays. A lunch reception was rather for the diplomats, we attended the evening reception along with some 120 Belgians and friends. The weather was threatening the fun, the embassy put a big tent on the patio, good idea as it rained the whole day till late afternoon. It was all in the residence, next to the new embassy that is nearing completion.

It was also the farewell of Ambassador Dr. Jan Hoogmartens and other staff of the embassy. We will all miss them, they were our support during the depressing COVID years.
The new ambassador is said to arrive in Beijing very soon.

Good food, beer and more

We were treated with great Belgian goodies, Belgian fries, Brussels waffles, delicious buffet by Morel’s Restaurant and lots of Belgian beers.
The mystery machine in pic 07 is an authentic Brussels waffle machine.
The ambassador opened the Methuselah Chimay bottle, yes 6 liters! I gave it a try (of course). Happy to discover two new beers for my collection, see pic 13.

Learn more about Belgium

Check this interesting article: “30 things I’ve learned about Belgium in 30 years.
The Brussels Times 1 June 2023


Ambassador’s Kitchen in Beijing 3


In Ambassador’s Kitchen in Beijing 3 I show the cooking competition organized by Mango TV, see the previous post.

Two teams were to compete preparing Belgian dishes, one team headed by Ms. He Chaolian, (Laurinda Ho, youngest daughter of Stanley Ho) and the other with Li Chen, Superstar, famous Chinese actor and director. Location: the Mango TV building north of Taikooli, on 20 December 2022. The Belgian embassy provided a translator.
Jury members were Renaat Morel and myself. They got my Chinese name wrong but that was our mistake. Right is 范克高夫.

Ingredients, cutlery, and other were provided by Morel’s Restaurant.
In a limited time the teams had to make some famous Belgian dishes: Belgian fries, mussels, endive and ham (gratinated), pears in red wine. The pears (“Conference pear”) are from Belgium and have a unique and delicate taste. Some supermarkets in Beijing sell them.

Hands up for the two teams

We were a bit worried how the teams would handle the challenge.
As it turned out, they both did a great job.

It was difficult to nominate the “winner”, we finally awarded the prize to He Chaolian as she opted for the more difficult dish, the endive au gratin.
Again the organization and team work of Mango TV were impressive.
Yes, Beijing life is never boring!

Ambassador’s Kitchen in Beijing 2

Belgian ambassador’s residence

As mentioned earlier, Mango TV was also shooting the residence. In this post Ambassador’s Kitchen in Beijing 2, some details and pics.
For a whole day the TV crew invaded the residence and I admire the ambassador for his patience. I was myself not present, Renaat Morel was however one of the guest stars.

See some of the screenshots of the program and other pics.
The focus was on the typical products Belgium is famous for. Of course we have the cuisine, the many beers, the champions in cycling and our tourist attractions. And we are famous worldwide for the many cartoons. The focus was on the Smurfs.

Gilbert and cartoons

On 28 September 2018 I was invited to give a talk about Belgian culture in The 3rd China Int. Conference for the Investment and Trade of Cultural Industry, in the China National Convention Center. The talk covered only a small part of all the details I have on file on Belgian cartoons and folklore. Eduard van Kleunen, Counsellor of the Belgian embassy attended.

The title of my presentation was “Belgium: A small country with a rich culture (and exporting it)”.
Here the video of the talk, not great because too much focus on me and not on the slides.

Belgium has a long list of famous cartoons, see here the most relevant:

– The Smurfs (French: Les Schtroumpfs; Dutch: De Smurfen) is a Belgian comic franchise centered on a fictional colony of small, blue, human-like creatures who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest.

– Asterix or The Adventures of Asterix (French: Astérix or Astérix le Gaulois) is a series of French comics. The series first appeared in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote on 29 October 1959. The Asterix series is one of the most popular Franco-Belgian comics in the world, with the series being translated into 111 languages and dialects.

– Jommeke is a Flemish comic strip series in publication since 1955. It was created by Jef Nys and can be defined as a humoristic children’s adventure series. Jommeke, an 11-year-old boy, is the series’ main protagonist.

– Suske en Wiske is a Belgian cartoon series by Willy Vandersteen, one of the most popular ones in Belgium and also Holland. It started in 1945. In other regions: Chinese (Taiwanese version): Dada & Beibei – English (UK): Bob & Bobette (later: Spike & Suzy) – English (USA): Willy & Wanda.

– Robbedoes  & Kwabbernoot (Spirou & Fantasio) is one of the most popular classic Franco-Belgian comics. The series, which has been running since 1938, shares many characteristics with other European humorous adventure comics like The Adventures of Tintin and Asterix.

– Tintin (Dutch: Kuifje en Bobie)(French Tintin et Milou): The Adventures of Tintin is a series of 24 comic albums created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé. The series was one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century. The series first appeared in French on 10 January 1929 in Le Petit Vingtième (The Little Twentieth), a youth supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century).

– Lucky Luke Comic book series: Lucky Luke is a Western bande dessinée series created by Belgian cartoonist Morris in 1946. Morris wrote and drew the series single-handedly until 1955, after which he started collaborating with French writer René Goscinny. Their partnership lasted until Goscinny’s death in 1977.

Ambassador’s Kitchen in Beijing 1

Ambassador’s Kitchen is a top-ranked program

In Ambassador’s Kitchen in Beijing 1, an introduction to the program, the actors and how Belgium cuisine was in the focus.
Mango TV (芒果TV) is a Chinese media company controlled by state-owned Hunan Broadcasting System. Mango TV specializes in creating online videos and is an online platform providing content that is presented in TV channels from Hunan Broadcasting System and Hunan Satellite TV. Its current headquarters is located in Changsha, Hunan. Mango TV provides audience with diverse content including films, TV series, music, cartoons and entertainment.

The program was featured in this China Daily article dated 29 December 2022:
Ambassador’s Kitchen, a TV program aiming to embark on an “exotic” journey through mouth-watering foods, recently began shooting in Beijing.
The show features four celebrity hosts: actors Li Chen; Wu Chun; Laurinda Ho, the daughter of late Casino King Stanley Ho; and singer Liu Wei, as well as two guest stars, actress Sun Yi and singer Liu Wei. They will take Chinese and foreign cuisine as a “bridge” to exchange cultures.
Before the launch ceremony held in Sanlitun area in Chaoyang district, the six celebrities were divided into two teams and sent to the embassies of Argentina, New Zealand, Turkey and Thailand in Beijing, to shoot some footage.
Propelled by the stardom, the show’s hashtags have generated around 36 million “clicks” and drawn 119,000 netizens to discuss the related topics on Sina Weibo, an indicator for popularity in the showbiz industry.
Coproduced by Global Times Online and Beijing WiaoE Technology Co Ltd, the TV show was aired on Jiangsu Satellite TV, CCTV and Mango TV.

See other article:
“The ‘Ambassador’s Kitchen’ program warmly launched the re-enactment of exotic cuisine to integrate hospitality”

Belgium in the spotlight

There were several shootings done, in Morel’s Restaurant, in the residence of the Belgian ambassador and a “chef’s competition” in the building of Mango TV next to Taikooli North in Sanlitun.
Some of the stars who joined were:
Ms. He Chaolian, the youngest daughter of Stanley Ho (Laurinda Ho). When Chao Lian was born, the gambling king Stanley Ho was 70 years old.
Li Chen is a Chinese actor and director born in Beijing, known as a Superstar. He is known for being a member of the variety show “Keep Running!” since Season 1. Born on November 24, 1978. Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing shocked millions of fans when she revealed that she is breaking off her engagement with fiancé Li Chen. However, the story is not yet concluded…
All of them were very relaxed and friendly. Chaolian impressed us as she was not only pretty but friendly and a good cook.
Our Belgian ambassador H.E. Jan Hoogmartens joined most of the shooting, with an impressive cool and patience!

Morel’s Restaurant becomes a studio

On 20 December 2022 the massive crew of Mango TV transformed the restaurant in a studio with ceiling, outside and inside lighting. I don’t know the exact number but I guess over 15 camera were filming… Very impressive and so professional.

In this first post see some of the pictures taken in the restaurant and screenshots of the program. The staff was super excited to take a picture with the Superstar!
More to come in other posts.

Belgium Day in Beijing

Ambassador’s residence

Very often Belgium Day in Beijing on 21 July is not celebrated as it is in the middle of summer and many people are away. Mostly 15 November, Kings Day, replaces the real national day.

Our Ambassador Jan Hoogmartens this year opened his residence for a very nice celebration, well attended by the hardcore Belgians in Beijing, on 21 July.

It was a wonderful and relaxed evening.
The residence is behind the construction of the new embassy, design by our Belgian architect Nicolas Godelet (NG-Lab).

Buffet by Morel’s

To the satisfaction of all Renaat Morel spoiled us all with his buffet. I was happy to lend a hand, fully dressed in my chef’s attire with Belgian colors. I think it’s fun to help! Big success for the lasagna, Belgian fries and all the other goodies. People also tried the Belgian Natural Artisan Ice Cream.
The ambassador kindly sponsored the whole evening, the food and the drinks. Thank you!