Table Talk

Still Life

Hong Kong-based chef Işıl Okçu styles out the perfect Harvest tablescape for your next gathering, plus the seasonal dishes to create for your loved ones to enjoy.

I’m continuously developing my personal vision of healthy, seasonal and spontaneous cuisine. Slow, clean, colourful... I try to use locally sourced and relatively healthy ingredients to make them inviting and keep them simple. The harmony of slow living truly reflects the essence of my personality.

I like to create still-life moments. I’m in love with everything that surrounds food – not only cooking, but styling, photography, culture, storytelling, ceramics, fashion. I have always been fascinated by local artists in Puglia and gather ideas and inspiration everywhere.

I truly believe what comes from nature goes to nature. I find the colours in the wild so impressive: how they gradually and naturally shift from earthy tones in Harvest to the first shades of Spring and an explosion of powerful, vibrant colours in Summer. Nature is so incredibly full of perfect tones. Don’t you just want to eat these ever-changing colours each season!

Nature taught me to explore the harmony of light, colour and negative space. I love mixing and matching pieces on my table, while keeping it casual. Natural yet elegant.

My inspiration and creativity starts with the outdoors: the sounds of nature, the glow of the water and the plants that change colour with the wind. When designing my table, the first thing that comes to mind is the harmony of colour, texture and light in nature. Everything comes to life when combined with natural linens, woods, whites and silvers.

As Harvest approaches, we ease into the cooler months with this rafter of Autumn deliciousness: a bundle of Brussels sprouts, a variety of persimmons, squadrons of butternut squash. All my favourite veggies and fruits are in season. Think tomatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, squash, wild mushrooms, colourful chards, beetroots, plums and apples.

When I design a new dish, I begin imagining how I want to plate it. Before tasting, everything starts with the visual part.

My gatherings always include friends around a long wooden table! Old linens bought at flea markets, silver cutlery, candles and a mix of ceramics. I’m really precise about finding what dish, fabric or kind of wood we are using to present the food. It extends out to the shape of things. It all has to fit perfectly.

Follow Işıl’s journey @isilokcu