Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Now Open: Duchess of Flanders

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 10:05 AM

By OWEN MORRIS

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The Duchess of Flanders opened yesterday on the corner of 39th Street

and Genessee in the space once, a long time ago, occupied by the Nutty Girl. The

Duchess in this case is Vivianne Berghman, a native of Belgium who

moved to the States eleven years ago and brought some of her home

cooking with her.

"In Belgium we call it a traiteur, it means to treat

people," Berghman says of her concept. "It started out with butchers in Belgium who would cut up meat

and they started to make stews in the store.

They have the meat right there, and on and on it went to now they have

full meals. Women started working more in the '70s and it allowed

people to still eat well... Do you know Dean & Deluca? This will be a small-scale Dean & Deluca."

Berghman says The Duchess of Flanders will focus on carryout business with sandwiches and two soups at lunch every day and one different home-cooked meal every night.

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"I want to keep the entrees the same each weeknight for a month so on

Wednesdays for next month, I will be making meatloaf and people will

know that hey, it's Wednesday and they can get meatloaf here."

Berghman

has never cooked professionally but has lots of experience cooking

for groups. For the past six years, she's made a weekly meal for the

workers of Boulevard Brewery, where her husband Steven Pauwels, is the

brewmaster. "The people at Boulevard told me, 'Viv, you're chasing the American dream.' But I don't think I am. I'm not trying to get rich. All I want to do is break even, maybe make a little money, and have fun."

As for the name, Berghman handed me a flyer explaining that there never

was a real-life Duchess of Flanders but that Flanders was once apart of

the "Duchy of Burgundy, a land renowned for its famous wines and

sumptuous food." 

Duchess

of Flanders is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. On

Saturdays it is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a slightly different

menu. "It's only baked goods on Saturday. I love baking and I've done

it all my life. So baked goods and maybe a soup as well if we have some

left over from the day before and Saturdays my kids will be here working

with me."

It's worth a visit just to see the space, which is my version of a dream kitchen. There's so much natural light that Berghman says they need very little artificial light. The colors and the layout is comforting, and the lone table in the front of the store makes it seem like you stepped into someone's kitchen -- in a good way. When I told Berghman that I felt like sticking around, she smiled. "So many people say that. We wanted to make it comfortable. Like our food, it's comfort food and this store it matches that."

Find The Duchess of Flanders at 1621 West 39th St., 816-931-0930. 

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