Ask Tom

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Reader Mike Graul heard that Bernard Dehaene, owner of Le Mannequin Pis, the very good Belgian outpost in Olney, had left his seven-year-old restaurant. "Any info is appreciated," writes the Takoma Park resident.

I tracked down Dehaene in Belgium, where he confirmed the November sale of Le Mannequin Pis to husband and wife Peter and Loren Gomes of Gaithersburg, first-time restaurateurs. The 39-year-old Dehaene says health problems were behind the transaction, as was a desire to return to his source of inspiration -- since January, he says, he's made three trips to Belgium to cook alongside chefs there and meet with the country's beer makers. He's in negotiations with a U.S. beer importer that is associated with five Belgian breweries to represent them on the East Coast.

Fans of Le Mannequin Pis should know that the new owners have retained its two veteran cooks, who are offering the same dishes as before the sale, and that Dehaene periodically checks in to offer guidance. Still based in Washington, he hasn't abandoned the stove, either. "I'm still available for private parties and cooking lessons," he says. Dehaene can be reached at belgichef@yahoo.com.

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