It’s one thing to make pretty good Southern comfort food to impress your friends at a gathering. It’s another thing to invest decades in the kitchen to take that skill and open a classy-casual eatery to share your delicious creations with the world. That’s exactly what Terrance Wilder did when he opened Wilder’s Bistro.
Behind Wilder’s Bistro
“Wilders is a black-owned business and family-owned restaurant that caters to everyone and focuses on Southern homestyle foods with a twist” explained Judy Odel, as she was walking me through the incandescent bistro. Wilder’s Bistro is located on Oneida Street in Appleton. Wilder’s was one of the first restaurants in the area to introduce an authentic southern inspired menu. Their main pioneering in the Valley is their smoked meats. More on that later. Owned by Terrance Wilder and Judy Odel, Wilder’s hit the scene in 2017. Since then a few local restaurants have gravitated towards the smoked meat offerings.
“I’m flattered,” said Terrance, discussing the history of Southern food in the Fox Valley. “If the Valley develops a taste for Southern flavors, I’m all for it.” Terrance works his magic in the kitchen day in and day out as head chef at Wilder’s Bistro.
Terrance was introduced to his new-found love of cooking 42 years ago when his grandfather took him into the backyard on Labor Day. He told Terrance that he was going to teach him how to barbecue. He start by pouring lighter fluid on the grill. When the match was lobbed onto the grill, “the flames went all the way up to the upper patio and I’ve been hooked ever since.” Terrance explained with a glint in his eye. His grandparents gave him the skills and recipes to create a mastery of soul food. Terrance has used his 27 years of cooking experience to develop his own unique fusions. Many of these creations on the menu are named after his family members.
Terrance has a strong passion for making his cooking and flavors different from others. He even has his own blend of spices that he calls “Tee Seasoning”. No one, not even his girlfriend, kids, or parents, know his recipe. Tee seasoning is added into everything to give his dishes an extra flare. Terrance told me he puts, “a lot of love into every single dish. There’s nothing that we can just quickly pull out of a bag.
For the past few years Wilder’s has been experimenting with their Lounge in the back of their building. In 2021 they are changing the concept of the Lounge from Tapas to a full service bar & dining area. The food will remain the same as the menu offerings in the main bistro, and patrons are welcome to use the Lounge as a larger bar seating area. The Lounge is also designed to be rented out for parties, staff events, family gatherings, and more! Their food and drink excellence will continue, but now with more simplicity by sticking with one menu throughout the entire building. Stay tuned for more information on their social media pages as their ideas develop.