A media frenzy supported the Hasselt girls Yanaïka and Stephie in the final of "Mijn Restaurant", the VTM programme in which people are given a place to turn into a restaurant from scratch and compete against others.
Yanaïka and Stephie opened "Exquisa" in Hasselt, specialising in dishes from the humble potato. Limburg Governor Steve Stevaerts supported their bid and counted on traditional Limburg solidarity to carrying them through as winners.
They competed against Brussels residents mother Micheline and son Jelle in "d Hogeschool" in Leuven. His Paling in 't Groen or Eels in Green Herbs sauce has become legendary and one critic said that Jelle has the makings of a chef with stars.
Still Micheline and Jelle were the underdogs against the local support from the Hasselt population and whilst Oud-Rekem were asking for votes in the "prettiest village in Vlaanderen" competition, they also supported Exquisa.
Oud-Rekem won and celebrated last night. Limburg hoped for a double whammy but Leuven won meaning Micheline and Jelle keep the keys to their restaurant while Yanaïka and Stephie lose theirs. They said,'Het is alsof je je huis moet afgeven'
It is good news for Micheline and Jelle but bad news for the eels!
Today it was revealed on the radio that the regional newspaper Het Belang Van Limburg had published an ad yesterday asking people to vote for Exquisa but had inadvertently given the SMS number to vote for Leuven. Local residents are now calling for the newspaper to buy the restaurants for the girls who they feel were the real winners.
There are rumours that local businesspeople are interested in buying Exquisa for the girls whose success has brought advance dinner bookings up to August. We'll see what happens.
Blog: Living in Belgium