By Bart Biesemans and Clement Rossignol | Photos by Clement Rossignol/Reuters

Kortrijk, Belgium (Reuters) – Hospital food would normally rank alongside school lunches on the culinary charts but a hospital in western Belgium has broken the stereotype after winning approval from a prestigious French restaurant guide.

AZ Groeninge in the city of Kortrijk becomes the first hospital in the Benelux to be officially recognized by Gault & Millau for the quality of the food it serves to its patients.

Marc Declerck, chief executive of Gault & Millau Benelux, said the guide producer has been collaborating for more than 10 years with the likes of companies and retirement homes on the meals served to employees and residents.

The hospital brought in Gault & Millau experts to inspect their food and offer advice for improvement, notably for their fish dishes, their sauces, and their potato servings.

The guide subsequently determined that the hospital’s food was of a high standard, and Declerck said he would be happy to serve up some of its dishes in his own home.

An employee prepares food at AZ Groeninge Hospital in Kortrijk
An employee prepares food at AZ Groeninge Hospital in Kortrijk

The general advice, he said, is to work with good ingredients and stick to simple recipes.

“People don’t want necessarily too complicated things. Make it healthy, make it tasty… Try to cook for them like you would cook for yourself,” he told Reuters.

The meals prepared for patients will not actually feature in the annual restaurant guide but have been officially certified by Gault & Millau for 2023.

(Writing by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Gareth Jones)