My name is Sandra Slawinski, I am Belgian (Flemish speaking) living in Brussels, Belgium. Born and raised in Ghent, Belgium but now nearly 20 years in Brussels. I have been a food enthusiast from a young age, always hungry, luckily my father was a Chef.
In 1980 my parents opened a gastronomic restaurant “Apicius” in Ghent and sometime after he had 2 Michelin stars. He passed away at age 43 in 1992 from pancreatic cancer. I devote a section of my blog to him, to inspire others and to remember him by.
Friends ask me what restaurant do I recommend, “can I get that recipe”, where did you buy this spice, etc … hence this blog, with some answers, some tips, some suggestions…
I LOVE to entertain at home and no matter how many times I promise myself this time I will write down what I cooked, I never do. So I hope with this space I will finally have a record. The planning of a dinner party, afternoon tea party or “just” drinks, is a real joy for me! Setting the table: choosing table cloths, plates, bowls, glasses and flowers, gives me a high. My favorite moment: lighting the candles 15 minutes before guests arrival, tasting the wine, 5 minutes breathing in and out, everything is ready, planned with precision – dingdong – first guests are here, the show starts. What a thrill! I share with you some tricks for hosting without stress.
Why “leeks and high heels”? My dad’s favorite vegetable were leeks and I always am in high heels especially when cooking.
So what have I been up too so far:
My Lifestyle philosophy is about sharing time around food with family and friends. Making them smile and spending time together!
My career path has been a great journey towards opening my own business and creating my lifestyle brand: LeeksandHighHeels.com
After the death of my father and high school, my world was turned upside down and at 19 I decided to take my life in my own hands and move to the big city, Brussels, and forget school. My mom got me a job interview at the prestigious Hilton hotel. 5 seconds later I was working in their brasserie. This was a failed ruse of my mom and the Chef to get me to come home and go to University. Despite my many, many tears and “OMG, what have I done” I powered on. Soon I got promotion after promotion and LOVED working in hospitality. I worked myself up to middle management rather quickly and was even the youngest junior manager in the Hilton chain for a while. I was sent twice on a 6 months mission to Jerusalem and Bucharest to open 2 new hotels: recruiting staff, setting standards, teaching customer service and managing the restaurants in Jerusalem and the front desk in Bucharest. Hard work, but learned a lot – I was 25.
I stumbled upon my next job through a temp agency. Back in Brussels waiting to be part of new hotel opening in France, I walked into a temp agency just in case it would not work out. BOOM, I temped 3 months and I was hired full time in 1999 at a Diplomatic Mission in Brussels where I still work (for now) almost 18 years. Over a decade now I am the Director of Travel and Visits. I ensure our high level visitors are well taken care off: from their favorite drink to booking hotel rooms and suites – from restaurant suggestions to finding a large speech venue – one day negotiating hotel rates, the next being at the airport greeting VIP’s. I also take “the show” on the road around the world. I love my job!
Now my brand – it’s here, tedadaa – and it was soul searching to get to this point – PROUD – LeeksandHighHeels.com here you find my travel notes and foodie places to put on your bucket list but also my own recipes. I travel a lot for work and love little weekend breaks; food and hotels are always a priority! I have very high standards and expectations when it comes to hotels and don’t mind spending a good junk of my hard earned money on them but they have to deliver! When I cook at home, almost daily, I like easy, fast and fresh dishes. I use seasonal ingredients and lots of fresh herbs and spices, low in salt mostly. But don’t get me wrong I aim for balance and that includes cake and fries – MUST.
At 19 I boiled my first egg! Yep, daughter of 2 Michelin star Chef but I was not allowed in the pro-kitchen. My dad , ever the tyrannical Chef, didn’t want to teach me how to cook . As rebellious teenager I went behind his back and decided to bake a cake one day. Still today my mother and brother laugh about the result as …well … let’s just say it was a disaster. When I moved to Brussels, for the first time I had a normal domestic kitchen in my rental and started to cook.
I am a self-taught cook: devouring cook books, ferociously watching cooking shows on TV combining that with years of watching my dad, I just love it. I have followed many cooking classes to perfect my technique in baking, sauce making and whatnot. And now am working on getting my degree in nutrition. So excited!
Today my love for entertaining at home is stronger than ever and it is what I cherish the most. Brainstorming what to cook, what wine to serve, getting the best products at local markets and specialty shops, setting a beautiful table, making it special for all my guests – what a joy!