There is a new concept just outside Brussels called “Wilder at the Villa”. Chef and interior designer Maarten Van Essche who has formerly worked at Noma and Hof Van Cleve has created a private dining experience in a villa that is at his disposal.
“Because it is private dining, people need to make a reservation to get a seat. There is room for 20 guests at the table, and it is available from Wednesday to Saturday,” Van Essche told Food and Wine Gazette.
“The recipe for the evening is simple: one table, one menu, one starting hour. Nature defines the menu, we fix the matching drinks. So all the guests are eating and spending the evening together.”
“I created this private dining concept because we have a great villa at our disposal for an undetermined period of time,” Van Essche told Food and Wine Gazette. “We want to use it in the best way we can. As a chef and interior designer, I like to create a great atmosphere to live and invite people. Since its an old villa from the 50s, I have chosen to give it a castle kind of feeling using warm colours, wallpaper and lots of plants,” he said.
Starting in December, Van Essche together with Tine Claerhout hope that this concept will go on for as long as possible. “We hope to stay at least one summer. That would be great. The villa also has a big old garden,” he said.
Van Essche says that because of the decoration and the fact that all guests are eating at one table, the dinners are normally very cosy. “People eat at the same time and there is a similar energy among the guests.”
So what can guests expect when they come to the Villa? “We serve a seven course menu with a wine or home brewed juices pairing. It is like a seasonal walk in the woods. We charge one price for the evening so there are no surprises at the end.”
The Villa where Van Essche is serving his food is in Beersel, just a few kilometres away from Brussels. “We opted for a private dining concept because of the rental contract. We also like to give personal attention and a warm welcoming feeling to our guests, like my cuisine which is a personal reflection of a geographical moment in time.”
Van Essche hopes to continue to improve his cuisine and to collaborate with local organic farmers but he also hopes to have a fixed location at some point. “I would love to continue working with great people and building a team,” he said.
You can find more information on the website but you will need to ask for a code to gain access. Dinner for 20 guests is served at one go and starts at 8pm.
The Belgian chef has worked at Pastorale between 2006 and 2008. He has also worked with Rene Redzepi at Noma, Peter Goossens at Hof Van Cleve and Alain Ducasse at Bar et Bouef and takes his inspiration from Magnus Nilsson, Kobe Desramaults and Michael Pollan among others but most of all from nature itself.