Over the last few years gourmet food trucks have been popping up all over Europe and last November it was Brussels’ turn, as chef Jean-Baptiste Nyssen opened his truck ‘Keep on Toasting‘.
It’s now one year since he opened the hatch and sold his first gourmet Croque-Monsieur, the classic Belgium toasted sandwich with a twist. During a recent visit to Brussels I caught up with Jean-Baptiste, on the eve of the trucks 1st birthday, and tried one of his delicious toasties for myself. I had the Croq’ November and it went down a treat. The melted cheese was deliciously gooey, and the combination of taste and textures with the perfectly toasted spelt bread, bacon and celeriac really hit the spot.
As I munched away Jean-Baptiste explained that having trained for two years at cookery school, followed by 5 years hands-on experience working with different chefs, he wanted to start his own business. While there were plenty of other food trucks around, these were more often than not, of the deep fat frying variety producing poor quality food. He wanted to offer the people of Brussels a healthier, higher quality alternative.
Croque-monsieur is an extremely well-established Belgium snack but it rarely varies from the traditional cheese and ham filling. Jean-Baptiste took this popular dish to another level. Using taste combinations and ideas he had gathered over the last 7 years, he developed a unique range of delicious toasties. He chose to concentrate on producing just this one type of snack, so that he could work within the confines of the truck and still produce something really good to the high standard he desired.
Over the year the menu has changed with the seasons but you’ll always find four types of toasty available including a veggie option, costing €5 each, while each day’s stock last, that is!
Jean-Baptiste isn’t just interested in great food, he is also a big fan of social media and its ability to promote a brand so as well as being geolocated ‘Keep on Toasting’ is active on Twitter and Facebook with regular updates about where he is and what is in stock. You can also check where he will be over the coming week or so on his website. This is usually somewhere in Brussels but can be anywhere in Belgium as he is available for public events and private functions. The truck is custom-made with a built-in professional kitchen, its own generator and water supply, enabling it to cater for up to 500 people, even in remote places.
Jean-Baptiste loves working in his truck, as it gives him the opportunity to interact with his customers, learning from them as he goes and I really enjoyed meeting him and my toastie was delicious but don’t just take my word for it; here’s what some of my favourite Brussels’ bloggers have had to say about ‘Keep on Toasting‘ over the last year…
“I spotted it at Place Flagey last Sunday and tried the croq’français (Entremont cheese, chicken, leeks, rosemary-honey) as well as a mouth-watering toasted brioche with cream cheese and lime – oh yes, it was a happy Sunday indeed!” S Marks the Spot
“We decided to share the Alpin (cheese, ham and carrots simmered in rosemary) and the British (scrambled eggs, bacon, stilton and green beans). Both of which had us grinning from ear to ear and making lots of MMMmmmm sounds.” Why I’m not Skinny
“Toastie three, the Croq-Vert, by all rights, shouldn’t have worked. In the end, it was my favourite and really enjoyed by all. This veggie croq is filled with a slightly sweet goat cheese. It’s mixed with green lentils, mango chutney, nuts and a hint of coriander. Spectacular!” Cheese Web
“Long story short – I’m definitely going back … If you’re in Brussels, it’s definitely worth a visit. Two big thumbs up!” Doctorate Housewife