I HEART WORK
Restaurant owner and chef Sevtap Yüce tells The Lifestyle Editor why she loves to work.
Who: Sevtap Yüce
Work: Owner of Beachwood Café in Yamba, New South Wales, Australia
Describe your work in 5 words?
Food, love, people, sun and sea!
Why do you love what you do?
I love feeding people beautiful food and making them feel happy. In the restaurant I love to serve food that has a soul, that is fresh and tasty, and where I know its provenance. I source all the raw ingredients locally and can give you names of every supplier…that to me is very important.
Who or what inspires you?
The people that grow produce inspire me, the fishermen inspire me – they dictate to me what goes on the restaurant menu that day. My Mother was also an amazing cook, which is where I developed my love for food. People’s attitude towards food in Australia has changed a great deal and when I moved to Yamba, at first it was difficult opening a restaurant serving Turkish style of cooking; but everyone was very supportive and I think that people here now are embracing food from lots of different cultures.
What is your memory of food as a child?
My Mother used to soak wheat for a couple of days to get the starch out to make Baklava. It was all very labour intensive. My father would come home with truck-loads of tomatoes and Mum would cut them, sprinkle them with salt and leave to sit for a while on trays. She would then get a large copper pan and make a tomato paste that would see us through the winter. Always planning and preparing food, spending time and putting a great deal of love and effort into each dish – that was something I always remembered.
What is your favourite midweek supper?
One of my favourite meals is chicken with borlotti beans, which is a recipe I am going to put into my next book. It is cooked with onions, tomatoes, green chillies and I have it with salad and Turkish bread. I am in love with my chicken supplier (though I don’t think he is aware of that!) as he supplies such delicious chicken and ducks for the restaurant.
What is the best advice you have received?
Keep it simple. I apply this philosophy to both my cooking and my lifestyle.
What can’t you work without?
A cup of fresh coffee plus good olive oil – we use some made near Toowoomba.
What do you always have in your larder or fridge?
Tomatoes, feta, rocket, flat leaf parsley and a bottle of Chardonnay.
What has been your best decision in your career so far?
I think to write this book, because it has received such great reviews - that for me personally has been such a wonderful feeling.
What do you have coming up next for your work?
I would love to do another book as I have enjoyed this experience so much. I am off to visit Sicily and Istanbul for inspiration and am planning to spend time visiting my family.
What would your last supper be?
Probably the recipe in my book on p.138 which is chicken with baked eggplant (aubergine) served with garlic yoghurt and Turkish flat bread.
Do your friends invite you to their homes for supper?
Not very often, as they say they get a bit worried cooking for me. The truth is, I would just love to be served a simple salad and bread, as for me it is more important to get together with friends and spend time talking and enjoying their company - not for them to have pressure on what we are going to be eating!
If you could do another job what would you like to do and why?
I would like to grow vegetables - that would bring me great pleasure.
Turkish Flavours by Sevtap Yüce, published by Hardie Grant £14.99, available from all good bookshops and online here.
Thank you Sevtap for talking to The Lifestyle Editor.