Royal Warrant Series: Wittamer

Our Royal Warrant series continues with an exquisite address in the heart of Brussels: baker, pastry chef, chocolate maker and caterer Wittamer on the Place du Grand Sablon. This family-run business has been there for over 100 years. The I Love Belgium team got a guided tour in their workshop where every single bread, pastry and chocolate is made, employing over 50 people. Craftsmanship and quality go hand in hand in this Belgian institution.  

It all started when young orphan Henri Wittamer, originally from the Ardennes, arrives in Brussels where he starts an apprenticeship in a bakery of a Flemish baker from Mechelen. Some time later he meets the love of his life, Marie and in 1910 he opens his own bakery on the Place du Grand Sablon where at that time, they would still play Frisian handball and the bread would still be transported in dog-carts. 

Henri and Marie work hard, reinvesting every single penny earned in the family business. And their hard work pays off. Their son Henri-Gustave inherits a very successful commerce. He marries creative and hardworking Yvonne who will first come up with the idea of selling pastry, the Wittamer ‘desserts’ are born. Yvonne also has the idea to open a tearoom, which was established in 1950 on the first floor above the boutique, and decorated in the classic Wittamer colors, pink and chocolate brown. 

In the sixties the pastry industry is revolutionized with technological developments and Henri-Gustave and Yvonne invest in the newest machinery in order to innovate and execute their ideas. Their son and daughter, Paul and Myriam take the reigns in the late sixties, blending their respective talents to form a perfect synergy allying modernity and tradition. After a formal pastry training in Switzerland at the famous Coba Schule in Basel, Paul joins forces with Myriam, whose passion for art and creativity blows a constant wind of novel ideas in the atelier, just like her mom Yvonne. 

In the 80s, the age of the star restaurants and Nouvelle Cuisine, they keep up this pace and continuously launch new products paving the way for a new generation of pastry chefs and chocolatiers. They were the first to use colors in its chocolates, including the House signature fuchsia pink, Myriam’s favorite color. Paul and Myriam also surround themselves with the best people: Head pastry chef and Paul’s right hand Christophe Roesems started at Wittamer as an apprentice 31 years ago and decorator Michael-Lewis Anderson, creates the most dazzling decors for Wittamer’s ‘Haute Patisserie’ creations. Some of their most famous creations: ‘speculoos macaroons’ (long before the macaroon craze), heart-shaped red chocolates with raspberry ganache or the infamous Samba, a chocolate cake with dark and light chocolate, a cocoa sponge with almonds, covered in dark chocolate, snatching the first prize in an international blind tasting contest in 1986 in Deauville, which still leaves the French with a bitter-sweet taste. 

1999 is a very special year for the Wittamer family. They are entrusted with the great honor of designing and making the wedding cake of crown heirs Prince Philippe and Mathilde, now King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium. After having tried a wide selection of confectioneries, the future King settles for a cake reminiscent of his childhood. On 4 December 1999, the Royal Wedding captivates the entire country. At the Royal Palace, time has come to present the gâteau-au-chocolat-amer-farci-d’un-concassé-d’agrumes-confits-à-servir-avec-une-crème-anglaise (bitter chocolate cake filled with crushed candied citrus fruit served with an egg custard). There’s also an anecdote linked to this big event: when Paul and Michael carry the huge wedding cake with two other men through several rooms in the palace, an emotional Michael approaches the Princess, steps on her train and without a second thought for protocol, murmurs a “You are very pretty”, which greatly amuses Mathilde. Since that day, Wittamer was awarded the title of Certified Royal Warrant Holder of Belgium. A classic Belgian tale of down-to-earthness and modesty.

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    The Royal Warrant Series: Chocolatier Galler