New Growth

As an artist who works with nature, Carina Wong details how she embraces a simpler lifestyle, from growing fresh produce to eating according to the seasons.

I suppose I think of myself as an artist who works with nature, creates with my hands and collaborates with artisans. Living itself is a creative journey. And a journey I wish to share, so I love to host and curate dining experiences and various workshops. I seek a simple lifestyle and made the choice a few years ago to move to the countryside, where now I find a more balanced way of living.

Living in harmony with nature touches and inspires me tremendously. Magic does not start in restaurants with chefs, it starts on the farm, in the soil of the forest, in the ocean… with the help of sun and rain. It starts with nature. And we are a part of that nature.

In my cooking, the focus is not on myself as the “chef” but on the ingredients. It’s more like a collaboration between myself and the ingredients, where the cook facilitates to simply bring out the taste.

It’s an amazing experience when you have witnessed and have a true understanding of the process of transforming a tiny seed into food that not only nourishes but also delights. When you have that awareness and gratitude, then you realise it’s the simple things that make life taste great.

Eating with the season is the most earnest, respectful way of consuming food. When you begin with fresh, ripe ingredients, you don’t need to do a lot to be a good cook.

Food has played an important role in my life since I was small. Eating is a big part of my family’s traditions even before I was born. So my grandparents were foodies, my parents are foodies, my brothers and I are foodies! Lets just say I’m born into a bloodline of foodies!

I’m lucky to be immersed in a wide spectrum of palettes, from home-style food to tasting different cuisines in restaurants locally and in our travels. My cooking inspiration comes from understanding and appreciating the ingredients themselves, the cooking philosophies of chefs I admire and combining those with the footprints of precious food memories I have with family and friends. A mix of all emotions!

Basil is an incredible herb to grow in your own garden, or just by the windowsill if you don’t have space. It’s easy to grow, and it pairs well so with many recipes. I love to create pesto with a mix of sweet and dark opal basil.

I like to decorate with different ceramic tableware and décor, according to the mood of the season. I’ve been learning and experimenting with natural dyes recently in both indigo and warm yellow. I’m constantly fascinated and amazed by nature’s beauty in so many different forms.

Deep blue evokes the sea under moonlight. Its calming effect, its wisdom and feminine energy. Warm yellow conjures images of fields of wheat in the warmth of the sun. Full of energy, creativity and masculine energy. They’re yin and yang – these two colours together are a beautiful balance of feminine and masculine energies and perfect for a high summer table.

Follow Carina’s journey @carina_heting