Alexander Van Laer

The Antwerp Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

To mark the release of our Warriors edition, we've teamed up with This is Antwerp to bring you 100 Antwerp Warriors, a 100-strong selection of local movers and shakers setting the tone for the neighbourhood of tomorrow. From design and architecture to contemporary art and politics, these are the creatives shaping the narrative of the future.

Alexander Van Laer

Alexander Van Laer

Founder, FLAVR

Can you describe what you do?

I’m the CEO of FLAVR, a start-up based in the breathing heart of Antwerp. FLAVR is an online platform where you can order homemade meals cooked by talented home chefs in your neighbourhood. At FLAVR, we believe that authentic and affordable food of the freshest quality should be accessible to everyone. By enabling home chefs to connect with people through their love for cooking, we want to bring back the taste of homemade food and improve the social cohesion between neighbours.

How do you perceive Antwerp?

Antwerp is a very vibrant city and home to a lot of new hotspots and innovative start-ups. It’s a city where different cultures meet at every corner. For example the small Turkish groceries in the south of Antwerp are perfect to buy fresh vegetables. And in the Asian supermarkets in the centre of Antwerp you can find authentic Asian ingredients and cookware. In Antwerp, you can simply find products from all over the world. A perfect place for our talented home chefs to experiment.

What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives?

The city of Antwerp and the Antwerp start-up ecosystem focusses a lot on supporting innovative and creative start-ups. FLAVR for example is incubated at Start-it@KBC, which allowed us to get in touch with mentors and other start-ups to learn from. I believe this ecosystem of start-ups for different industries is extremely important, since young entrepreneurs like myself can learn a lot from other people’s successes and failures.

Try out the amazing Moroccan pancakes filled with olives, feta and vegetables on the Vogelmarkt.

How would you say Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today?

Up until a few months ago, I lived in the Antwerp suburban region. I studied in Antwerp, I went out with friends in Antwerp, and now I work in Antwerp. The thing that fascinates me the most about the city is its diversity. The different cultures for example, but also the variety of architecture, economic activities and regions. On a relatively short distance, you have one of the leading European harbours, many large corporations, a lot of innovative start-ups, a rich cultural city centre, and much more. I would say that Antwerp feels like a city of opportunities to me.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more in the city?

FLAVR of course. I’d love to see many new FLAVR home chefs cooking in our city. Not only because it is our company, but mainly because FLAVR enables people to order food from each other and brings people together. I think that’s something we should do more, talk to each other and have fun.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? How would you guide tourists around?

The Vogelmarkt on a Saturday. A place where young and old enjoy delicious food and celebrate the weekend. Try out the amazing Moroccan pancakes filled with olives, feta and vegetables. And drink a good glass of cava at the famous lighthouse stand where they serve the best croquettes of Belgium.

Local legend?

The story of Silvius Brabo inspires me. Brabo was a mythical Roman soldier who killed a giant, called Druon Antigoon, who asked money from people who wanted to pass the bridge over the Scheldt River. When they didn’t want to pay, he cut off their hand and threw it in the river. The name Antwerp (“hand werpen”) originates from this story. I’d like to believe FLAVR is a little bit like Brabo: we remove the hurdles to become an entrepreneur and let people monetise their talent for cooking.

FLAVR.be
Photography Joke De Wilde