We decided to drop in at this quirky eatery, situated directly opposite the majestic Belfry of Thuin. What awaited us was a cosy atmosphere, healthy and local food, a sumptuous menu and a hearty welcome… All the elements for a guaranteed good time! Here, we present to you: “Feel Food”.
What’s the story behind the concept?
Feel Food is essentially the story of a couple doing what they love best: Nadia and Cédric. Nadia has a management degree and is a hard-wired entrepreneur: from the various projects she had worked on and by following her passions, a training course in living food led her to come up with the concept of a “good restaurant”. Cédric, alongside her, started out in the not-for-profit sector before doing a 180° turn and jumping into the project with his partner. A gamble which paid off for the couple, who have had to learn to work side-by-side every day!
This is the principle underpinning the Feel Food concept: a way of cooking that is respectful towards ingredients, in the form that nature intended. In particular, it favours cooking at low temperatures or using steam, organic food, blends of cooked and raw foods, and vegetables, of course, are given the starring role.
A story that is constantly changing
Despite being relatively recent, the concept has been changing, along with the opportunities and risks (including a certain virus that shall remain unnamed…) which have presented themselves. There is, however, one common theme throughout: healthy and local food as well as bountiful, multicoloured and flavoursome cooking.
The adventure started in June 2016 on the back of the food truck trend. Nadia and Cédric stood out from the crowd right away: their truck was one of the only ones offering organic and local food (and plenty of it). Everything was transformed under their care, in their little workshop in the lower town of Thuin. From industrial estates to private parties, Feel Food gradually began to make a name for itself and broadened its client base; the concept opened up to professional events, began to offer a catering service and of course, the icing on the cake, their pre-packaged meals starting appearing on the shelves in Biocap shops.
The truck doubled up as a food stand, to service two orders at the same time. Feel Food could then start travelling to trade fairs focusing on well-being and sustainability, in keeping with Nadia and Cédric’s values.
From their small workshop in the lower town, Feel Food started to move up in the world, literally and figuratively; they set up their kitchens in the Château Beauregard, overlooking the valley. With the rental contract coming to an end, a fortuitous meeting and a twist of fate led the couple to visit a house that was for sale on the Place du Chapitre. Some minor hesitation and number-crunching later… the truck became a restaurant! The workshop was set up there in September 2019, and the restaurant followed a few months later in December.
However, you can put aside any expectations of a traditional menu and table service: here, you can choose from a selection of 5 meats, 3/4 carbohydrates, 5/6 types of vegetables, 3 sauces, and you design the meal yourself. And behold: the concept of the pick-and-mix restaurant! “The advantage,” Nadia tells us, “is the lack of waste; by closing time there is barely enough uneaten food to fill a single bowl!”. Cédric goes on, with a smile: “One lady asked us for 80 grams of chicken every time she came. Now that’s precise!”
Alongside the restaurant, the truck is still running and so is the catering service. The couple also offers to come and cook in the comfort of your own home.
Then, a few months down the line… Covid struck. Like the whole sector, Feel Food had the rug completely pulled out from underneath them. The couple quickly bounced back and started offering a meal delivery service. The public responded enthusiastically. Upon reopening, the initial model had to be revised in line with health measures. The restaurant now works on an à la carte basis. A helping hand from the town of Thuin was very much welcome: “Terraces were made available to the hospitality sector, on the square right in front of the restaurant. Crowds flocked there throughout the summer. Feel Food served up between 2500 and 3000 covers,” Cédric tells us. A real boon, but the crisis continues to take its toll…
Sketching out the future
Has the truck ground to a halt, stopped in its tracks since Covid? How about learning languages to be able to communicate better with tourists, who make up a significant proportion of the clientèle? Hire new members of staff to deal with the workload? Make contact with new local producers? Redesign the menu? There is no shortage of projects and ideas! Don’t hesitate to drop in at Feel Food and sample Nadia and Cédric’s delicious offerings…