Can you describe what you do?
Our concept is pretty straightforward: we serve vegan and vegetarian food, most of it seasonal, organic and from local farms near Antwerp. There’s three of us: Caterina, Chiara and Livio. Caterina mostly works at the bar and sometimes helps out in the kitchen. Chiara can be found in the kitchen most of the time. Livio also runs the bar and whenever something needs to be fixed, he’s the one to count on. We spend most of our time here; cooking, serving food and thinking of ways to improve the concept. It was rather difficult to find a nice spot for the restaurant. Ending up here was a coincidence. Chiara lives down the street and on one of our walks we came across this place. We get a lot of different customers thanks to our central location – tourists as well as locals.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it?
We really like the city. If you think about it, Antwerp is rather small, but there is so much to do. Definitely in summer, Antwerp transforms itself into another city with something new to do everyday, such as markets, events and festivals. Also there are constantly new concepts popping up, making the city very much alive and vibrant. The art scene too is very big here, there are a lot of spaces and materials available. It gives artists the chance to experiment and try new things. There are so many influences from all around the world, which makes Antwerp very inspiring. If we had to describe Antwerp it would definitely be with the word diverse.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
To start with the great schools, like the Antwerp fashion academy and the school of arts. And artists can find a studio or atelier rather easy here. Since the city is not that expensive, you don’t need a full time job to survive here. This leaves time to work on your own projects and to extend your network. Another really positive thing is the fact that being an artist is recognised as a real profession. People take you seriously and support what you are doing. You get honest and good feedback and get the opportunity to explore and develop your work.
There are constantly new concepts popping up, making the city very much alive and vibrant.
How would you say has Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today?
Antwerp definitely changed us. Before Caterina moved here, for example, she was shyer and a little uncertain about her work as an artist. But here she met a lot of new people and talked to them about art and started showing them her work, which led her to do some awesome projects. Those experiences really made her more confident about her work. When it comes to Wild, Antwerp has also influenced us greatly. First our idea was to turn Wild into a coffee bar, serving coffees and some cakes. But then we discovered that there are very few vegetarian and vegan places to eat in Antwerp so we decided to change our concept and make Wild a lunch and dinner place.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
We would really like to see more nature and green in the city, like trees, parks and flowers. Another thing we would like to have around are more high quality bakeries. In Italy and Switzerland, you can find a good bakery on every street, so in the morning you wake up and can go for fresh bread without having to walk very far. It would be great to have that here as well. Also more live music in bars would be great! Little concerts with just a guitar and singers, free to attend, to make evenings that more special.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
We always spend the weekends together. When the weather is nice we go to the Middelheimpark, we walk around the city and go for coffee at Vigo’s or to Me and My monkey or Dancing Chocola. On Sundays we like to go to ‘Het Bos’, have brunch there, and stay there until the evening for a concert. When the weather is bad we take visitors to the Cartoon’s cinema, which is the smallest cinema in Antwerp. Or go to FOMU or the MAS, which both have great exhibitions and are fun to visit.wildproject-antwerp.com Photography Thomas Ost