“The taste is my priority”

4.17.2018

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The Raffles Istanbul brings new energy to the city dining scene, thanks to the opening of the Isokyo restaurant! Chef Clinton Cooper has created stunning menu.

Today, he tells us everything about Isokyo, but also his vision of Food & Beverage.

The dining experience is at the heart of your new restaurant: can you tell us what are the main criteria to make it a success?

The market and our customers. Firstly, we did extensive researches into the current dining scene to ascertain what was missing and how we could fill that gap.  Once we had the structure of the concept, we then had to listen to our guests through a series of focus groups to ensure that what we were serving was what they wanted. It was an exhausting process but a necessary one.

What stimulates you in Isokyo kitchens on a daily basis?

My team.  I have been fortunate enough to assemble a great team that embody my ideals of hard work, precision and accomplishment. Isokyo would not have the success it has today without their dedication and passion.

You travelled from New Zealand, your country of origin, to China, Thailand, India and Shanghai: do you believe that discovering new countries and their flavors is one of the Chef’s missions?

As a Chef, you are constantly learning something new each day. When you visit a new country, you are exposed to such a vast amount of new culinary knowledge, techniques and culture.  It’s the one piece of advice I give to any young chef that’s starting out.

According to you, what defines the pan-Asian cuisine?

Pan-Asian cuisine is a collection of dishes taken from a range of the countries in Asia.  We are doıng contemporary pan-Asian. Taking the traditional dishes and flavors, cooked and presented using western cookıng technıques.

Can you describe the process of creating a new dish? Is it a complete improvisation? A vision? What are your objectives when you offer something new?

We start with a singular idea in mind. It might be a taco, a stuffed chicken wing, etc. Then we look at the classic Asian flavor or style that we want to use. Thıs is then deconstructed and redefined in the new format. The taste is my priority when creating a new dish.

Of course, the presentation is still important, as this is the guests’ first impression.  We have procured stunning chinaware which does a fantastic job framing my food.  With Isokyo, I did things a little differently. I first wrote the menu then selected specific plates for each dish.  Rather than choose one line of chinaware and have to adapt my food to fit the plates.

Food & Beverage is changing a little more every day, with new demands and new guest practices: how do you see this transformation? Does it already have an impact in your restaurant?

Food & beverage is like fashion. It’s constantly evolving and you have to move with it or get left behind. The demographic of our guests is changıng daily and it is important to recognize this in order to be able to understand and to satisfy their needs. Today’s chef is as much in the dining room as in the kitchen.

What is your favorite dish?

A classıc lemon tart. It is such a simple dish but requires a lot of skills to execute it perfectly.  There are 2 main components, the pastry and the lemon curd and there is nowhere to hide if your make a mistake wıth either.

What dish are you most proud of and why?

That would have to be our twice-cooked sweet potatoes, soy aioli and pickled chilly. It’s a dish that the whole team had some input on and it really came together well.  It’s a testament to the great teamwork of my brigade.  

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