Chef Willem Hiele (°1981)
Willem Hiele grew up in both Ostend and Koksijde in a family of fishermen. As a passionate surfer, he explored the most beautiful seaside spots in the world. Everything he does and makes, is in a way connected to the sea.
Based on his education as baker and pastry chef, Willem Hiele has developed his own style into the terroir cuisine he is known for today: both complex and simple at the same time.
Start of the new restaurant Willem Hiele in an architectural building, a brutalist gem from 1971 by Belgian artist/architect Jacques Moeschal. It is located amidst the beautiful nature of The Big Keignaert, the polder area in the backyard of the vibrant city Ostend.
- A year full of awards: Willem Hiele obtains his first Michelin star, he rises to the 57nd place in the European list of OAD and gets a place at number 77 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
- He decides to end this story on a high: in December of that year, he closes his restaurant in Koksijde, taking time to thoroughly resource and renew himself.
Start of Boutique and Bar/Brasserie Raphaël, first a unique boutique, later a popular outdoor brasserie in the restaurant’s garden.
- Willem Hiele’s book ‘Zeevuur- Seafire’, published by Kannibaal Publishers.
- He wins the ‘Restaurant Philosophy award’ by Gault&Millau.
As an advocate for North Sea fish, Willem Hiele becomes a member of NorthSeaChefs and he is committed as a member of the research team.
First mention in the Michelin guide and a score of 15/20 by Gault&Millau and three chef’s hats.
Awarded as ‘Discovery of the year’ by Gault&Millau with a score of 15/20 and two chef’s hats.
Willem Hiele transforms the old fisherman’s house from 1832 of his ancestors -up to seven generations back- into a gastronomic restaurant in Koksijde. In previous years, he already organised guest tables at this inspiring place.
“Willem Hiele is pure talent.”
– Chef David Martin, double Michelin star winner, of the Brussels restaurant ‘La Paix’.
“He brings the philosophy of the terroir of the polder landscape into his dishes in a magnificent way.”
Sven van Coillie of Gault&Millau.