“In my second book, you will find nearly 140 gourmet raw recipes that I’ve created during my raw journey by focusing on quality. If you think raw food means zucchini noodles or just sprouts, raw will astound you with its elegance and inventiveness. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.” -Nazlı Develi, Gurme Vegan
Turkish and Greek in heritage, Nazlı Develi of Gurme Vegan is a chef, cookbook author, menu designer and digital maketing specialist. Her works in the culinary realm are a synthesis of her many talents and crafts. Based in Istanbul, Turkey, Nazlı also spends considerable time in Stockholm, Sweden. We had a moment for an in depth talk with Nazlı about her culinary philosophy, raw vegan ethos, cookbooks, life in Turkey and Sweden and more.
Interview with Nazlı Develi, Gurme Vegan
When did you begin your culinary career?
Nazlı: When I was very young, I had the opportunity to cook with my chef grandfather. As the years have gone by, that connection I had with the culinary arts has only grown.
Before discovering cooking, I worked in various fields. I started my culinary career when I went vegan after a deep spiritual experience. I left my full-time job as a digital marketing manager – one of the qualifications I acquired before becoming a chef. When I created “Gurme Vegan”, little by little I was entrapped in the world of gastronomy, until I realised that it was what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What inspired your interest to work with food?
Nazlı: I am inspired by looking inwards, a feeling, an unseen plant, the colour of plants, a music, a smell that reminds me of something.
You are a chef and also author, menu designer and digital marketing specialist. I love your devotion to plant-based gourmet cooking and excellence at every level, from the culinary creation to the visuals and marketing. How do all these areas connect with the heart of what you do?
Nazlı: I see all my work undividedly. The other piece would not be good enough without one of them. My digital eye always helped me to design my plates. Today marketing is everything. No matter how good you do something, it doesn’t make sense if you can’t reflect it well. It is pleasing to say that people who taste my food take the same taste they perceive in the photo. The fact that all work comes from the same hand gives it a soul.
Why raw vegan?
Nazlı: Because in nature nothing is cooked. If we had to eat food cooked it would be presented to us in this way. Things are always raw in this world. The only thing I am questioning before eating something is “ is it man-made or a gift from nature?”
It is because also when we heat food above 42 C, the enzyme content is destroyed. Enzymes are necessary for almost every function in the body, especially digestion.
Can you please share more about your cookbooks Green & Awake: RAW cookbook & Green & Awake Gourmet Vegan Recipes, from when you conceptualized it and decided to create a cookbook, to recipe development and photographing all the dishes.
Nazlı: I started my writing career years ago. I have written about spiritual matters, vegan recipes and nutrition in numerous blogs and magazines.
I think there is nothing as valuable as writing experiences and sharing with others. In this world, we’re all passing, so maybe the only lasting thing is what we leave behind. That’s why I always wanted to write.
I started as a vegan and in time went raw vegan. In my first book “Green & Awake Gourmet Recipes” you will find “The best of Gurme Vegan” recipes, from starters, soups, main dishes to desserts, drinks and more. It is also a good mix of raw and vegan recipes.
I devoted my second book, “Green & Awake Gourmet Raw Cookbook“, to people who are on the path of healing consciously. I know it is not easy to leave behind habits and comfort zones. But once when you open this door, I can say that this will be a beginning of a new life.
We are taught to eat 3 times per day- mostly cooked, canned, deep fried. When we become ill, people tell us to go to doctor and get some drugs to cover the reason of illness and find temporary solutions.
Even if we are so well-educated, when it comes to nutrition we are still uneducated. Heated things are lacking the life energy called prana. Vibrations in cooked food are very low, and also acidic. For a healthy life it is essential to raise the alkaline level of the body.
I am also very moved by Dr. Morse’s The Detox Miracle Sourcebook. It is more than a detox book; it is about raw food and herbs for compete cellular regeneration.
In my second book, you will find nearly 140 gourmet raw recipes that I’ve created during my raw journey by focusing on quality. If you think raw food means zucchini noodles or just sprouts, raw will astound you with its elegance and inventiveness. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
You have a life of two cities- Istanbul and Stockholm. Can you share more about how your life in these two places fuels your vision and your work?
Nazlı: Living between two cities helped me to balance many things. Being on the move is something that constantly improves creativity. I’ve never liked being nailed somewhere. When people ask me when I will open a place, I say ‘When I get a little older.’
Working with people from different perspectives has always expanded my horizons and reflected this to my plates.
Istanbul and Stockholm. One is very open, the other is very closed. It has led me to realize the importance of this balance. I love standing in the middle.
You develop all sorts of events including culinary workshops and tasting events. Can you share more about how you develop these experiences and what guests can anticipate or look forward to?
Nazlı: I convey more than just food, I aim to change perception of plant-based food and show people how gourmet it can be through a memorable experience.
My mind is always on the look-out. Ideas come to me when I am exercising outdoors in the early morning and I write them down in my notebook.
When I create something new, I combine it with my tested foods, and when I feel ready to release, I feel excited to share this with others. Of course, the settlement process takes time. Some guests still wait to taste some plates. I develop new tastes with my instinct and also by taking into consideration prior feedback. For example cooking mung beans with blueberries in tangerine juice with a pinch of cardamom- this was very instinctive. I cooked it at some spiritual retreats. Everyone who tried this dish had the same reaction- “How can it be so good, what’s in it?”
I have very loyal guests and also new participants. It is pleasing to say that people who taste my food take the same taste they perceive in the photo. The fact that all work comes from the same hand gives it a soul.
I also was very moved by the ‘Cacao Ceremony and Sound Bath’ post. The photo and caption really spoke to the spiritual element that is also deeply integrated into your work and presentation. This is aninteresting and unique aspect of what you do. Can you share more about this presence and integration of spirit into your work?
Nazlı: Since I began this work, all the things that I do come from my heart. It made me so happy to hear you noticed those spiritual elements which are deeply integrated into my work.
In this life, there is a big seperation. There will be always something missing for humanity. Today most of us lost the connection with our souls. This separation also creates a hunger which comes from longing for the source. The minority of us are aware of this. We are looking for something all the time to fill the void.
Everyone is gifted indeed, but some people just never opened their package.
We all need to find something we lose ourselves with naturally, free from force. I found my passion in the deepness of my soul. When I fed myself raw, I noticed I discovered my true potential day by day and drew closer to myself. What I should do in this life became clearer. My higher self undoubtedly knows what is best for me. The only thing we all need is to connect with the source.
When something comes from the heart, it becomes very vibrant and awake. This is what happens to my work. On the way of spiritual awakening, plant-based raw food, medicine music, meditation and breathing works are all very effective elements.
I loved the photo on your IG account for the collaboration with Tribest Green Star Elite. Can you share about the types of creative and professional collaborations you have been involved with?
Nazlı: I do recipe development for food brands, tasting events, vegan menu design for restaurants, cafes and hotels and culinary workshops for individuals.
I worked with startups for years. I’ve always been happy to help people who are passionate about what they do. In addition to the well-known brands, I also work with brand new vegan food brands. This is usually about developing the recipe by using the product.
Last year, we worked with a gluten-free vegan pasta brand which is made from sprouted legume flour. My recipes were printed on the pasta packages. I did the photography as well. It comes from the same source: developing the recipe, cooking and transferring to the plate, photographing, editing and sharing digitally.
I also hosted a tasting menu event with this pasta brand.
I love long-term collaborations with people who have similar or the same expectations.
Dream culinary trip- Imagine you are going on a global journey to explore and learn about different ingredients and cuisines. What places would you go to?
Nazlı: I am very interested in the places where tropical fruits and different plants are used. Colombia, Peru, Vietnam, Bolivia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia are among the places I want to explore.
Do you listen to music while cooking? If so what are some favorite genres or specific artists?
Nazlı: Yes I love listening to music so much. I believe that music heals the soul.
We don’t just feed our bodies with food. We feed our eyes with what we see around, feed our ears with what we listen to. Today a lot of the music playing is very toxic. It is very easy to change the chemistry of the human body with the frequencies of the sounds. This fact cannot be hidden anymore, and many people have begun to wake up. It is important to make conscious choices in music as well as in food for a balanced life.
I like listening to Icaros songs and medicine music. They carry melodies that have healing power brought from different frequencies by people who discovered the source inside. Nessi Gomes is one of them. My favorite song is “All related“. It is no coincidence that our roads crossed in Istanbul shortly after I discovered her. People always find each other at the same frequencies.
I also love Swedish jazz singer Anna Lundqvist. I was very impressed when I heard the song “Mewe” for the first time in Stockholm.
You love travelling Scandinavia- Sweden in particular. What are some places you are particularly fond of and some areas you would still like to explore?
Nazlı: Yes, there are only two places I haven’t visited in Sweden. They are Kalmar and Gotland Island. I want to visit these places as soon as possible.
I was also impressed by Ålesund in Norway. I’m dreaming of going back there. Even though my husband said the place is only good for retired people, I think I am ready to retire to live there.
Nazlı: Celery juice, which is very popular nowadays, is among my morning rituals.
Nazlı: Cacao Ceremony and meditating
Favorite neighborhoods of Istanbul?
Nazlı: Moda, Kanlıca, Dolmabahçe, Akaretler, İstinye
Favorite neighborhoods of Stockholm?
Nazlı: Kungsholmen, Skeppsholmen, Djurgården, Södermalm, Millesgården, Hagaparken
Nazlı: This October, I am planning to host some culinary workshops in Copenhagen & Åalborg. Announcements will be published on my insta @gurmevegan soon. People who are interested can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the questions and registration.
Upcoming Events in Sweden
- Raw Cake Workshops between October 25-26 at Vegofika Cafe in Gothenburg
- Tasting menu events between November 9-10 at Radisson Blu Royal Park Hotel Stockholm.
- We’ll be also hosting a raw Christmas dining experience in December.
Stay tuned on instagram at @gurmevegan!
Visit Nazlı Develi online at https://www.gurmevegan.com/
Feature & Interview by Annika Lundkvist at Pacific Roots Magazine Editorial Desk