Meeting with the artist Fien Van Der Steichel

Each month, we meet a person we like, whose life or work revolves around food, to discuss their tips for a beautiful art of living.

Welcome to our Table Diary!

Today, we present Fien Van Der Steichel, a Belgian artist we met in Brooklyn, NY, while working for a painter in Red Hook. She always wore an apron and made delicious pasta in the blink of an eye. Today, she works in Brussels, where she continues to reflect on architecture and painting.

Wearing a TABLE apron outside the kitchen

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Fien and I'm a 23-year-old artist. Although my background is in interior architecture, I'm currently exploring the intersection of architecture, design and painting in my work. I love spending my days creating things with my hands, it's something very natural for me that brings me so much joy. It's when I put on my headphones and my hands are covered in paint or clay that I'm most myself and most at peace. I grew up in Belgium, but recently moved to Brooklyn, New York, where I was lucky enough to work for a painter. I don't yet know where I'm going to settle down, but I'm enjoying Brussels as a home base, which is very inspiring at the moment.

What's your connection with cooking?

With my family, we always eat together, it's a special moment that we share. Food has always been a reason for us to be together. I don't like too many people in the kitchen, I prefer to cook alone, it's my little moment of peace and I often look forward to it. I like eating with others better than eating alone, it makes me happy to see my friends together, enjoying the food I've prepared. But when I'm cooking for myself, I like to limit myself to the bare minimum or go and get something to eat.

How do you set a table?

When it comes to setting a table, I'm not very fussy about matching plates and cutlery or their perfect placement. What really counts for me is that the table is filled with delicious food and wine. I want guests to leave satisfied and happy. I wouldn't worry if there weren't enough chairs around the table, for example. In fact, I think it allows you to move around and talk to people other than those sitting next to you.

Discover aprons

Dressing, cooking, entertaining

What is your fetish ingredient that you couldn't live without?

Lemon and fresh herbs are key. I think I use them for almost every dish. They refresh and make your dish smell so good even beforehand. I don't see how you can really go wrong with lemon and fresh herbs. And when they are about to go bad you can make tea with them.

What do you usually cook for a solo meal?

I try to cook a wide variety of dishes. I like pure dishes based on fresh produce, like lots of baked vegetables with canned salmon or fish. I also prepare a bowl of rice at least once a week. But at the end of the day, I try not to think too much about which flavors go well together; as long as I have a plate full of healthy, tasty things, often including leftovers from the day before, I'm happy. And if I don't feel like cooking, I settle for another dish of pasta with tomato. Pasta is my comfort food! With a garlic and tomato sauce, it's so easy and I can't get enough of it.

What's your favorite TABLE piece?

Aprons are my favorite piece. I use mine almost every day for painting. They're all handmade in their Marseille workshop and tell their own story because they're made from old fabrics. In my case, the front pocket is always full of brushes and I've received many compliments on my Table apron from the people I share my workshop with.