Emma, can you introduce yourself, what is your background?
My parents are both Parisian. I was born in New York, grew up in Switzerland and worked in advertising in Paris. I met my husband – and future partner in Wild & The Moon – Hervé, and together we have had three children and a cat. We left Paris for New York, then New York for Dubai where his job as an investment banker had led him. I launched my first concept store in Dubai, Comptoir 102, a place where design, decoration, fashion, jewellery, (green) cosmetics and a totally organic and healthy restaurant coexist. Then the Wild & The Moon restaurants in Dubai and Paris. I now live between these two cities.
Tell us about the fabulous Wild & The Moon adventure. Why that name?
When I opened the Comptoir 102 restaurant in Dubai with my recipes – organic stuff with seeds, seaweed and lots of vegetables – it was a crazy gamble. Fast food was king, and I arrived like a flower, explaining that there would be green juices but no sodas, chia puddings but no croissants, desserts… but without sugar. It was patiently explained to me that this thing was not possible, that bankruptcy was guaranteed and that people “wouldn’t go for it”. In fact, they embraced it, and the concept created a buzz! And then I wanted to push it a little further. To open a 100% vegetable-based place, with products from local and organic agriculture, without pesticides, gluten, dairy products, GMOs, sugar, flavour enhancers or colourings, without chemistry in fact… I wondered if that too was an impossible thing! Could we really go backwards, go back to healthy, unprocessed food, while at the same time being mindful of responsible agriculture? We have worked with a team of chefs, nutritionists and naturopaths to develop delicious recipes using real products. That’s where our name comes from: Wild, because we choose only small organic and local producers who work with respect for nature and the land. The Moon, because it is there to remind us of the cycle of the seasons, of nature.
What do you like most about your job? How would you like to develop your brand?
I love working with a team, but I like creating even more. To have an idea, a project, to see it take shape, to seek inspiration, to try it, to develop it, to see it born, see it come to fruition. That’s what gives me a buzz, what makes me want to get up in the morning. The Wild & The Moon project is not only about creating a menu from clean, ethical products, good for the body and environmentally friendly, but also about making that the new norm. Our planet is in crisis; we are overwhelmed by plastic, waste, junk food, we are impoverishing the soil, destroying natural reserves and poisoning what is left. It is time for re-education and different patterns of consumption. Wild & The Moon is my contribution.
I never use a decorator, I like that my places look like me, soothe me.
What differentiates Wild & The Moon from other brands offering green and fresh produce that has been thought through in the most minute detail?
My aim was not to open a vegetarian restaurant. Or vegan. Or organic. Or dietetic. I was simply wondering how to eat well in an ultra-healthy way by really enjoying myself, respecting my body and the environment. We worked from that point to design and develop these recipes. What’s more, for us, zero-waste and plastic-free are just as fundamental as the taste or origin of our products.
Is being ultra-healthy, body-oriented and as respectful as possible of nature part of your daily life? How?
I grew up very close to nature, between the mountains where I spent every weekend of my childhood and my uncle’s farm in the Basque Country, in a family where we played a lot of sports and where we ate very well, very healthily. My mother was a pioneer in organic food and has always been a true cordon bleu. Some of our recipes at Wild were hers before they were mine! Then when I arrived in New York with my husband and children, I also discovered new food trends, including the trend for green and vegan food. It’s interesting because it expands the range of possibilities in cooking. As a result, at Wild & The Moon, our recipes mix a little common sense, tradition, food and medicine with this green and plant-based trend by integrating superfoods that were not part of my childhood repertoire. In my home, the kitchen is central. It is the heart of the house, where we come together with family and friends. Food has to be inextricably linked to this social and family aspect, sharing, pleasure and conviviality. One of the biggest challenges for me today is the ecological aspect. In our restaurants we strive to be close to zero waste, producing very little rubbish and using no plastic. But at home, I find it more difficult to escape excessive packaging, even with organic produce. There is really a lot of progress to be made.
Can you give us your favourite Wild & The Moon recipe?
It’s the açaí bowl. Each of my three children knows how to make it, and it is our breakfast most of the time. For each person, you have to put through the blender 100g of acai pulp (I buy it frozen), a fresh banana with a little homemade almond milk (or another vegetable milk) and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or honey. When I’m feeling a bit flat, I put in a pinch of powdered guarana as well. Then I add a few seasonal fruits on top of that and a handful of granola. Sometimes seeds, grated coconut, according to how I feel that morning.
When it comes to decoration, do you often bring back accessories, pieces of furniture from your travels?
Yes, of course, I have always loved objects, art and design. Feeling good in a house is crucial. I just go with my feelings. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Paris or elsewhere, I always keep an eye open when I’m travelling! For Comptoir 102, I like to source objects or brands that are out of the ordinary, to seek out and discover new designers. I also really like the designers of the 50s.
Does Dubai influence your style? Do you enjoy the city more than you did at first?
It is true that when I arrived in Dubai, I missed Paris and New York terribly and that is why I launched Comptoir 102, a place with a very Western and urban look in the middle of the Middle East. It was a way for me to recreate a cocoon, a home from home. But obviously that didn’t stop me from discovering fabulous designers in the region, some of whom are among my favourites, especially in Lebanon.
Where do you get the inspiration for your decoration? How do you get your ideas?
Through life and chance. Sometimes I seek it a long way away, in Africa, India, Mexico or elsewhere. I don’t really think about how I decorate my house; it’s the result of a multitude of loves at first sight, objects that speak to me, that I like, trips, encounters, places I’ve lived, and sometimes gifts. I never use a decorator, I like that my places look like me, soothe me.
Do you go bargain hunting? Are you a collector?
Yes, I like hunting for antiques, and I like contemporary art, even if I don’t have much time for it at the moment. I started collecting when I lived in New York where I spent a lot of time in art galleries and auction houses. Then, thanks to Dubai, I discovered artists from the Middle East whom I like very much. When I buy, it’s always with my heart!
Can you give us your favourite addresses for doing your green shopping in Paris?
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily