The feestmenu of Mary Pop-In: healthy, vegan and against food waste

A christmas meal that not only provides an answer to the food waste, but on top of that healthy, vegan and delicious? Overschottenrestaurant Mary Pop-in, vegetarian master chef Nicolas Decloedt and fermento-guru Maxime Willingly joined forces and prove how festive a christmas meal without turkey and foie gras or not.

© Lies Engelen / Foodstyling: Lies Van Ginderachter

In early december, opened in Brussels, the mainly vegan pop-up restaurant Mary Pop-In are doors. The project of vzw Eatmosphere want to give people back more aware, let them deal with nutrition, and, above all, of the fight against food waste are hobby.

Also during the christmas season people continue to inspire, was on december 13, the Funky Fermenting Christmas Special organized. During this workshop made the participants an alternative christmas meal ready, especially in fermented products, in the attention stood. What exactly are all so great about it is we got to hear from Maxime Willems, ‘scientific chef at Foodlab Test!.

With what idea have you left for the compilation of this christmas meal?

Maxime Willems: “We have departed from the elements that make up a classic christmas dinner, time and time again: at my home, for example, stuffed turkey, cranberries, and celery. We have to have a light and vegan alternative to search. So we made instead of a stuffed turkey, a stuffed pumpkin, which we in place of minced meat filled with nuts, savory mushrooms and cereals. For the appetizer we have the bechamélsaus on the celery is replaced by buttermilk, and Parmesan cheese, walnuts and chestnuts. A more contemporary version of the classics.’

The idea behind Mary Pop-In is also to minimise food waste. How come back in the christmas menu?

“Especially in the dessert of bread pudding: the surplus-dessert par excellence. In addition, by the use of the fermented fruit and vegetables, which are much longer lasting. So did Romain and Adélaïde, the chefs of the Mary Pop-in, a lemonade from fermented cranberries, which, in combination with cava or gin is also a delicious cocktail. The same cranberries we used again for the main course, as an alternative for the traditional heavy butter sauces. And also in the dessert the cranberries back. Finally, we tried as much as possible local products, such as mushrooms that we have sought, or koffierest that we picked up at the coffee shop Or Coffee.

What is, in addition to the longer shelf life, the advantage of fermented foods?

© Lies Engelen / Foodstyling: Lies Van Ginderachter

“It is light and healthy, and provides the body with a good population of bacteria, called probiotics. Fermented food is also very good for the digestion: both what’s already in your stomach, as the food that still follows is much better processed. So a more acidic an ingredient is definitely during the starter an advantage: it makes your stomach ready for what’s after that is yet to come. Further, it is also just a delicious cooking technique, the taste of certain products really improve. The fermented knolseldertagliatelle, for example, has a much fresher flavor than ordinary celery.’

The menu is also completely vegan. That’s still a full-fledged christmas meal?

“A vegan christmas meal can certainly equally elegant and gourmet. I am not vegan nor vegetarian, but I’m of the principle: “less meat, but better quality’. Thanks to the vegetarian chef Nicolas Decloedt has this workshop also inspired me. If my family is not a time for well-established traditions such as turkey, I would direct this menu to introduce. Many of these stereotypical dishes are also not always high: you should have a look up how foie gras is often made. Also the traditional English christmas pudding is usually very heavy, fat and not even good. It is our lighter version with less sugar, just tastier.

This menu can even ardent lovers of turkey and foie gras convince?

“Absolutely, and that should be: it is simply no longer feasible as it now is. Mary Pop-In we advocate genuine for sustainability. People need to get back more in connection with their food, and their own kitchen back in the hands. Of course, it is easy to have a menu with a caterer to be ordered, prepared, delivered, and does make everything yourself a lot of work. But I do notice that the success. The people who have the christmas meal have meegegeten in Mary Pop-In were in any case enthusiastic.’



Fermented cranberry juice (recipe below)

Chips of groenteschillen and roasted pumpkin seeds (recipe below)


Fermented knolseldertagliatelle with a butter – or vegan melksausje, grated walnuts and chestnuts

Celery in koffiekorst with beer sauce

Main course

Stuffed pumpkin from the oven with cranberry sauce


Bread pudding with a vegan crème anglaise and cranberry sauce


Fermented cranberry juice

Chips of groenteschillen and roasted pumpkin seeds

© Lies Engelen / Foodstyling: Lies Van Ginderachter

First, create your gemberstarter. Afterwards, you go further with your starter to cranberry juice to ferment.



200 gr ginger, unpeeled, in chunks

100 gr sugar

0.5 l of cold 0.5 l warm water

Fermented cranberry juice (1 l is 1 glass per person)

1 l cranberry juice

100 ml starter

1 l of water

Groenteschillen you have

Pumpkin seeds that are

Tablespoon of oil

Method of preparation

Gemberstarter: Dissolve the sugar in 0,5 l of warm water. Add the cold water so the temperature drops. Hot water is not good for your fermentation. Pour your liquid along with the ginger in a pot. Do everything for 3 days to ferment at room temperature. Open the pot and see what pressure. If you have the pot in the refrigerator, slow down your fermentation.

Fermented cranberry juice: Press the cranberries through a cloth or soap. You can also get a juicer or sapcentifruge use. The rest of your pulp you can use in the pudding that we are later going to make. Add the starter to the cranberry juice. Leave the juice for 5 days at room temperature to ferment in a large pot. Close the pot with a cheesecloth or use a siphon. If you have a lid, regularly open to press. Pour the juice in a bottle and store it, to a nice bruis to obtain, for a day at room temperature. Store afterwards in the refrigerator and serve cold. Drink the juice pure or mix it in a cocktail with gin or cava.

As a starter, you can also use whey to use. This is a by-product in the making of yogurt or cheese. Healthy and delicious to make your own soft drinks.

Appetizers: get the peel of your vegetables in a jar. A few minutes deep-frying. Catch the chips on a sheet of paper towel and sprinkle with salt and herbs of your own choice.

Wash the seeds well and dry them off. Drizzle with a little oil. Roast for ten minutes on 180 °C. Remove from the oven when they are golden. Sprinkle with salt and other spices of your choice. Here we have cumin.

Mary Pop-In opens from 7 January to re-open its doors until the end of August. For more workshops and info around fermented food you can find on the website of Foodlab Test!

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