Jerusalem-born, London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi likes to mix things up, both in and out of the kitchen. Before enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu, Ottolenghi earned a master’s degree in comparative literature and worked as an editor for Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

These days, the restauranteur, food writer, and cookbook author is known for combining flavors and traditions from his Middle Eastern upbringing with those from the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Asia to create his own brand of fusion forged from a well-stamped passport. 

And the tireless Ottolenghi doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. His latest cookbook, which features Middle Eastern and Asian-inspired recipes from his London brasserie, NOPI (a nod to the acronym for the North of Piccadilly neighborhood, where it’s located) is hot off the presses.

Here’s a look at the world through Yotam Ottolenghi’s unique lens (and appetite):

Christine Blau: How do your travels find their way into your cooking?

(Photograph by creativityslivers, flickr)
A group of proud ricotta producers struts across Sardinia. (Photograph by creativityslivers, flickr)

Yotam Ottolenghi: I love to explore markets and restaurants when I’m traveling to get a taste of what a city is offering.

My favorite thing, though, is when I’m lucky enough to be invited into someone’s home or a family-run kitchen and get a little master class on how to cook their local specialty.

I got to do this a fair bit [while] traveling through the Mediterranean and had some very special experiences. Rising at dawn in Sardinia to help milk a flock of goats before eating a shepherd’s breakfast of freshly made ricotta [comes to mind].

In your opinion, what’s the world’s most underrated destination?

Corsica. The mountain landscape is jaw-dropping—easily comparable to the Alps. Hiking the GR 20 route is definitely on my bucket list.

Which city has it all and why?

Istanbul. The food, the markets, the Bosphorous—I just love (Read more...)

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