For the love of Chips!
There’s a new snack bar in town, its name is Chips and it was love at first bite. I normally don’t kiss and tell, but it would be selfish to keep these Antwerp fries all for myself.
Even though Chips already existed, the Antwerp frituur (snack bar specialized in Belgian fries) feels brand new. New owners, Remke Fierens (28) and Matthias Van Vooren (21) gave the snack bar a fresh look, re-invented the logo and tadaam… Chips became Chips with that little extra touch, or should I say flavor? In between deep frying the frietjes (which is fries in Dutch by the way), I’ve asked the partners in crime and life what these chips are all about?
TIA: What’s the story behind Chips?
Remke: Friends of ours live right around the corner. We payed this frituur a visit from time to time to talk over a pack of fries and Bicky Burgers (probably the most popular burger in Belgium). I loved coming here. I could already see myself frying from behind the counter, so I told the owner of the bar, that if she ever decides to sell the place, that I’d love to buy it. Three years later she did and now we’re the lucky owners of Chips.
TIA: So you just bought a snack bar?
Remke: Yes (smiles mysteriously). I was already working at a snack bar at that time. ‘t Frituur De Locomotief at Boechout. It’s a funny story actually. I previously worked as an architectural drafter, but I grew tired of sitting in front of a computer. So I decided to look for something different. ‘t Frituur De Locomotief was in the same neighborhood as my office. I just hopped in and asked Ivo, the snack bar owner, if they were searching for employees. I’ve worked there for three years ever since and Ivo’s motivation has been very inspiring.
Matthias: I’ve worked there for a brief moment as well. Remko actually offered me the job as I was looking for a way to earn some extra cash. When he decided to buy this snack bar I just tagged along. I mean look at this place it’s beautiful!
TIA: Is Ivo the person who sparked your interest in the craft of frying?
Remke: I think he is. He was always very passionate about his potatoes, frying equipment, temperatures and grease. You could call it the art of frying because there’s more to it than meets the eye. That’s what motivated me to take up an evening course in becoming a frituuruitbater (snack bar owner specialized in Belgian fries). Now in possession of a certificate I strive to work as efficient and passionate as Ivo. We already attach great importance to hygiene, as much as Ivo does. Thus you can find all our dressings prepacked on our counter. No mess with smudgy tubes at Chips!
TIA: Next to the fact that Antwerp is the Belgian capital of fashion, I’m getting more convinced it also became the capital of fries. Aren’t you afraid of the competition?
Matthias: Even though there might be a lot of snack bars in Antwerp, there aren’t too much in this area. The closest one would be the one situated on the Groenplaats. But then again, we’re really lucky to have found this place. We basically have the perfect location, in between two high schools and right in front of the youth hostel Pulcinella. So besides a ton of frie-craving locals we will be having a lot of tourists and students.
Remke: Besides, we’re not really afraid. You shouldn’t care too much about the competition if you deliver quality. If the fries taste amazing, the customers will keep coming in. And we hope ours do. Before the official launch of our snack bar we’ve put ourselves to the test by inviting neighbors, tourists from the hostel, friends and family to taste our fries and other snacks. We had about 120 visitors, so I think we’re doing a good job.
TIA: What makes your frituur stand out from others?
Matthias: To me that would be the interior design of our snack bar. I wouldn’t have come here in the first place if the bar weren’t beautiful. It’s designed to perfection. We’re a big fan of our marble counter. It catches the eye and completes the look and feel of our bar. It’s much more pleasant for those that prefer to eat in, to do so in a comfortable, clean and modern space.
Remke: We also use vegetable oils. It tastes less greasy than other oils. It’s not really proven, but I personally sense a difference. It doesn’t give you that feeling of being bloated and it doesn’t make you burp excessively afterwards. So it’s not only profitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Matthias: Next to being very modern and hopefully very tasteful, we’re a very young team. I think that being young makes it easier for our visitors to engage in some small talk. Which I believe to be important as well.
TIA: Would you still go out to eat fries, now that you have your own snack bar?
Remke: We did so before the opening of Chips to check out the competition. However, that won’t happen again any time soon.
TIA: What would you order if you did?
Remke: I usually go for a curryworst special.Matthias: My favorite is the crunch carrero. It’s like a mexicano, but with chicken and a little crustier on the outside. Definitely a must try!
You heard the man!Hurry up and taste Matthias and Remke’s love for the craft of frying at Sint-Antoniusstraat 35, 2000 Antwerpen.There is no friet-delivery (yet), but you could check out the menu, before your visit at www.chips.be.
Text by Laetitia Sabiti aka pintcinque.com
Pics by Laetitia Sabiti aka pintcinque.com