Time for a Feast with Chef Yotam Ottolenghi

11/06/2021

Ottolenghi for Serax

Now that we’ve begun to gather with friends and family again, attention has turned to hosting at home once more. With summer promising many long-awaited reunions (and hopefully sunshine), seasonal spreads and sharing platters are back on the menu. So who better to help us whip up a feast than British-Israeli chef, restaurateur and food writer Yotam Ottolenghi, as he launches his debut tableware collection 'FEAST' in collaboration with innovative design house Serax. An explosion of colour, pattern, and exuberance, Ottolenghi’s debut tableware collection is a visual feast. Here, we discover the story behind the abstract designs and share his delicious roasted aubergine recipe that’s perfect for serving up this summer.

Yotam Ottolenghi

When you think of a table laden with plates of colourful food, you immediately think of Ottolenghi. Chef-patron of six London-based delis and restaurants, and the author of eight best-selling cookbooks, his signature style is championing the humble vegetable by transforming it into a beautifully presented sharing centrepiece for the entire table, which starts with the tableware itself. Partnering with Italian artist Ivo Bisignano and Serax, makers of high-quality ceramic and porcelain dinnerware favoured by Michelin chefs, Ottolenghi has created a range of expressive tableware, designed to be enjoyed on any occasion and at any time of the day, evoking the joy that comes from sharing conversations with family and friends over a memorable meal.

This collection is a collaboration nourished by camaraderie and by the sharing of lovingly-made food around a beautifully-laid table.

Colourful and contemporary, FEAST is a reflection of an Ottolenghi dining experience: the feeling of ‘outrageous casualness’; that a meal can be both informal yet wonderfully decadent, a celebration of the everyday. The collection of tableware features various sizes of plates in a complementary palette of vibrant colours, and the designs include an O-shaped brush stroke alongside abstract artichoke and pepper motifs. “We always knew the collection would have to be a riot of colours, echoing the food we serve, which is always multi-layered and full of contrasts,” explains Ottolenghi on the inspiration behind the collection. “It was clear to all of us that we must have something unusual, contemporary and beautiful, and yet totally usable.”

Featuring zesty yellow, cobalt blue and dreamy azure, FEAST is a homage to the Mediterranean. All the colours and designs complement each other perfectly, but the eclectic mix-and-match approach allows you to create a tableware collection that suits you. “The beauty of all of it is that the dividing line between formal and informal has been completely blurred; you can see what you want to see, both when it comes to the food and the plates,” says Ottolenghi. “The plates are like different spices,” the artist behind the designs, Ivo Bisignano, explains. “It is the combination and proportion of the different components that will define the flavour.” Among the range, you’ll find small bowls for dips to huge serving platters for the main dish, alongside modern teacups and glasses. All the patterns are applied by hand and every piece comes presented in an equally colourful gift box, making them a great present for a foodie friend.

The way food is presented is as important as its taste; appreciating food is a holistic experience which involves all the senses.

With so much choice, it was hard to pick a favourite piece from the collection. “I love all the large serving platters,” Ottolenghi confesses. “The mere size allows them to really shine, and they are ideal for serving our salads.” Creating a collection virtually sometimes proved challenging as there were limited opportunities to see and feel the pieces in person, but the finished result spoke for itself. “The first time we served food on the dishes from this collection reminded me of what I have always known: that the way food is presented is as important as its taste; that appreciating food is a holistic experience which involves all the senses.” Of course, one of those senses is the feeling of happiness that comes from sharing good food with great company. “This collection is a collaboration nourished by camaraderie and by the sharing of lovingly-made food around a beautifully-laid table,” he says. “We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.”

Roasted Aubergines with Feta Yogurt, Pomegranate & Herbs

Serves 4, as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1kg aubergines (about 4), sliced into 2cm-thick rounds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g pomegranate seeds
  • 5g mint, leaves picked
  • 5g basil, leaves picked
  • 100g Greek feta, roughly crumbled
  • 50g Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.
  2. Place the aubergines in a large bowl along with the olive oil, 1½ teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper and mix well to combine. Spread out onto two large parchment-lined baking trays so that the slices aren’t overlapping.
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping over halfway, until softened and golden. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. To make the feta yogurt, add the feta, yogurt, milk, and lemon juice to a food processor with ¼ teaspoon of salt and blitz until smooth.
  5. To assemble, artfully arrange the aubergine on a large platter so that they’re overlapping slightly. Spoon over the feta yogurt to cover then top with the pomegranate seeds and herbs, then serve.