Flemish Carbonades in Régal Magazine

Carbonades Flamandes

Earlier this year, I was offered to contribute to Régal, the most recent addition to the French landscape of cooking magazines (it first came out two summers ago). My mission was to come up with three recipes, each one responding to a different theme: I was to create the recipes, test them, write them up, and take care of the food styling. To say that I was thrilled would be an understatement, given how much I enjoy the magazine. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement, given how much I enjoy the magazine.

The three recipes will be published in three subsequent issues, and the first of them appears in the Octobre/Novembre issue, which came out in France yesterday. The theme for this one was Ma recette de grand-mère (“my grandmotherly recipe”) — not necessarily a family recipe, but something comforting and warm to ease the transition from summer to fall — and I shared my recipe for carbonades flamandes, a Flemish stew of beef and beer that is sweetened with vergeoise brune (brown beet sugar) and pain d’épice (the French honey spice cake).

The photo shoot took place in my own appartment, and this was fun (you can see my living-room wall on some of the pictures, as well as the table I borrowed from my neighbors), reassuring (I got to use the kitchen equipment I know and trust), and convenient (no need to schlep my gear and supplies all across the city).

A couple of weeks before the shoot, I had a conversation with the art director to determine the mood we wanted to create for each dish, and consequently the kind of props I should be looking for. As you may or may not know, many shops and department stores in Paris will let food stylists borrow items for their shoots, in exchange for credit if the items appear on the pictures. Interestingly enough though, most of the props we ended up using came from my own (admittedly overcrowded) kitchen cabinets.

The day before the shoot was spent shopping and cooking: the idea was to prepare as many elements as possible in advance, leaving the assembly and finishing touches for the next day so everything would look nice and fresh. I did my best not to forget, scorch, or other ruin anything, and was mostly successful.

The day of the shoot went by in a whirlwind, as we styled and photographed the three recipes in turn: for each of them we needed a picture of the finished dish, and three smaller “detail” shots to show particular steps, ingredients, or tips. I was hoping to take a few behind-the-scenes shots myself, but ended up being so absorbed in the task at hand that I took just one. I hesitate to show it to you, so profoundly uninteresting it is, but here it is anyway — perhaps you will be pleased to meet my radiator.

Everything was shot under natural light, with none of the odd tricks that food stylists sometimes resort to: as is the case for most magazines these days, the pictures in Régal aim for a natural look so things need to look fresh and appetizing, but not overly polished. So while I have no woodglue/hairspray experience to share, I did learn a couple of simple yet handy tips: 1- a pair of flat tweezers is a very convenient tool to have in your food stylist’s kit (how else will you rearrange the snipped herbs to catch the light just so?) and 2- white vinegar on a paper towel or a coton swab works wonders to clean the side of a plate when you accidently smudge sauce on it…

[A word of thanks to Laurent from epicurien.be, who was kind enough to advise me on the best beer to use in the stew.]

Things Clotilde Loves

Earlywood Utensils
Earlywood Handcrafted Utensils

Gorgeous wooden utensils to brighten your daily cooking

  • From $8 to $49
Cuisinart Griddler
Cuisinart Griddler and Waffle Iron

Easy to use, easy to clean, and full of possibilities

  • From $99 / 110€
  • Too funy, i bought Regal 1 hour ago and discovered your recipe inside. I was very happy you chooser the wonderfull recipe of carbonades flamandes and talked about bruxelles’s gueuze beer ;-)

    In your recipe, try to use some chocolate inside.

    congrats ;-)

  • By the way, look carefully and you’ll see Estérelle Payany from Ester’s kitchen is aslo in this release of Regal ;-)

  • that’s very good!! I will buy Régal tomorrow I think!

  • Sounds like fun…and I’ll definitely add flat tweezers to my kitchen repertoire. Just for fun, how did you decide which recipes to feature? The picture looks great…and yummy.

    Meilleurs vœux!

  • Regal is basically my favorite food magazine. I think that your photo of the photo being taken is actually very beautiful. You only need one good shot. Yours is just perfect.

  • Thanks for writing about this recent adventure of yours. I have always been curious about what food styling is really like, and I am glad to know that hairspray and other horrible things are not always de rigeur. I wish I could see the whole spread–any stew involving a honey spice cake is certainly intriguing.

  • Oh I thought that was your tripod and I was feeling very jealous! Will you show us more later post-pub? Anyway it looks truly yummy. Felicitations!

  • LPC

    Congrats! The picture you posted looks really good.
    I am going out to buy my copy of Regal tomorrow.

  • Congratulations! This issue of Régal sounds like fun. Thanks for sharing your experience of the shoot!

  • yum! pleased to meet your radiator of course.

  • looks interesting. could you possibly link the pictures from the magazine here for us who don’t have access to the regal magazine? i’m a food stylist by trade here in manila.

  • Well done! Je vais vite l’acheter, c’est une lecture parfaite pour un samedi matin!

  • Alisa

    Do you know how much I love that you used the word “schlep”?!!!! (I have a little book called “Yiddish with Dick & Jane” which could help you increase your yiddish vocabulary!)

    This is so great for you, and the rest of the world. As of last week, I had finished the last Régal issue, and was so ready for the next.

  • pastilla

    Fun to live the adventure vicariously through you. :)

  • flo

    Excellent! I am a big fan of Regal for its genuine aspect! I am really glad that you got the chance to write for them! Congratulations!

  • Elizabeth

    Do you ever bake your own pain d’epice? If so, I would love a recipe to compare it to American gingerbread.

  • rainey

    Oh! I wish we had some food writing with such simplicity and integrity. And I wish I knew where to find a copy of Régal.

    Schlep certainly is a fantastic word whatever your native or language of choice! Yiddish is THE ideal language for onomonopoeisy and expression!

  • So nice to hear of a food photographer taking the natural route. In taking food photos for my website, I always go natural even though this is frustrating for the photographers here. I’m sure this was a lot of work but very rewarding. Congratulations!

  • Regal is one of my favorite magazines. I wish we could see more of yours in the photo. Delicious!

  • Like Staphanie, Regal is one of my favourite! I bought it today and I saw your reciepe… I will try it on this winter!

  • LPC

    I bought my first copy of Regal and am enjoying the articles in it. It’s good to be reading about food in French and understanding more of what’s going on about food in French. Am looking forward to trying out the dish you proposed. Merci!

  • I have to second the wish that you post photos or scans from the actual magazine! Would love to see the carbonnade up close, as well as your walls… :)

  • Hi there,

    I love your website, its so original and refreshing to see a website like this.
    Tres bien!

    Greetings from Belgium

    Ronny Henri Szostek

  • hello,

    Being born and raised in Flanders, and still living there I’m quite curious … We have so many different ways to cook the “real” Flemish carbonades ourselves, I would love to see yours.
    I’m not a total carbonades fan myself, it’s a quite common dish around here, so nothing “special”, although my mum makes it delicious!


  • CulinaryKate

    I just saw this mention of you on chow.com just thought you’d be interested!


  • Congratulations! That must have been so awesome. I wish I had access to Regal here in the Philippines, unfortunately I don’t think I do but will check anyway.

  • ola

    I wish Regal was available in Poland. Each time I go to France I get hold of a copy of the magazine. Now I need to wait until mid October…

  • Much congratulations. I used to be a chef and caterer in NYC before i moved to Paris last year and had styled a few food shootings myself. they are reall fun and creative. will u put the recipes on the blog too?

  • Congratulations!

    PS: I never knew food styling could get so elaborate as to include hair spray… I’m glad you didn’t have to do that.

  • Congrats on the print media article!!

  • Estelle

    Did you use the same recipe as in your former post about “carbonnades flammandes”? That one was delicious!

  • This is so exciting! Congrats to you! Can’t wait to see the recipes.

  • Did you know that Estérelle Payany from Ester’s kitchen is in Regal as well?

  • j’ai acheté le Régal et ta recette est très appétissante…elle sera testée je pense! je t’en dirais des nouvelles!

  • Carbonnades! Yummy! It reminds me of living in Burundi, a former Belgian colony, where our cook Cyprien introduced us to this succulent dish. As a kid I didn’t really like the beer, so he would make a special smaller portion for me without. Who said spoilt?

  • Greg

    After seeing your post I took a walk in your neighborhood. When you posted your recipe for the Chicken Family green beans I thought you were translating the name. I was surprised to see Chicken Family in English when I was walking around. I purchased Regal just down the street at the tabac. It is great to see your success.

  • Regal is a great magazine. I love it too. I can’t wait to read your article in the new issue which I will be buying today. Thanks for the backstage pass, very interesting.

  • Mini

    Congrats Clotilde!

    Does the magazine also come out in English in the US?

  • on a mangé ca hier soir!!! bien bon! Merci!!

  • I have tried the carbonade recipe and I must say it’s really good, it remembers me time passed in Lille. Thank you for this!

  • j’ai fait ta recette et j’ai adoré, tout le monde s’est régalé !

    j’ai, comme Laurent, “epicurien.be”, ajouté chocolat, alcool de thym, moutarde, et un speculoos écrasé…et puis je l’ai faite à la bière thaie(oups) !!!

  • Paul Egan

    I made this for my mother-in-law who visited last week and it was just wonderful. Made the day beforehand made it all the better too!
    It was my first time tasting it and strangly enough the following weekend I went to a wedding in Lille and tried it again in a bistro (not bad but not as good as yours and at the actual wedding (terrible, no pain d’epice mixed in with the actual juice)
    So there you go….you managed to teach me to make something better than the real thing :)

  • Tom

    I saw your post too late to obtain the magazine. Not sure I could here in San Diego. Can you please post the receipe in English, for carbonades flaman ?

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.