Lenoir City restaurant offers blend of Belgian and Southern cuisine

 
GENE PATTERSON-6 News Anchor/Reporter

LENOIR CITY (WATE) - It's hard to start a business, and when the business is food, it's really difficult to separate yourself from the rest of the market. However, Chantal Love and Jan Van Geyt may have figured out a way in downtown Lenoir City.
     
The restaurant is called Le Noir and it offers a fusion of Southern and Belgium cuisine.
 
The owners are originally from Belgium,.though they've both lived here for more than 20 years.  
 
"Our menu has Belgium specialties, but they're easy to like. We have a beer beef stew. We have a chicken stew with white sauce and meatballs.. Itís not something so unusual that people wouldn't try it or like it," said Love.
 
Love operates the front of the house while Van Geyt, a classically trained chef, works the kitchen. Cooking is not his only talent. As a young person, Van Geyt was a stilt walker.
 
"My hometown is famous for stilt walking. So, I was a stilt walker and we traveled the whole world. And that's what brought me to the U.S.," he said.
   
Van Geyt put the stilts away years ago, and for the past 35 years has been cooking.

When opening Le Noir, one of the challenges was coming up with signature dishes. Since Belgium is known for its waffles and the south for its chicken, chicken and waffles seemed a no brainer.
 
The question was how to make it different.
 
"We decided we're going to fuse them together, and we're going to do the chicken inside the waffle," said Van Geyt.

That is exactly what they did. Van Geyt showed us how it was done. One secret is the restaurant's special topping sprinkled with basil.

"The topping is more of a southern chutney because it's peach and maple and honey, and it,s got bacon. It's s a whole mixture of flavors. It's really good," said Love.
 
For now, this chicken in a waffle, and the other interesting dishes at Le Noir can only be found here, made in Tennessee.
 
Le Noir can be found at the intersection of Broadway and Kingston in downtown Lenoir City.  

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6/2/14