Irem Aksu is a London-based chef and researcher from Turkey. She founded her project Topik: food without borders in 2015 whilst completing her MA in Cultural and Critical Studies at Birkbeck University of London.
Irem has started running her seasonal dinner series based on Istanbul’s diverse cuisine at E5 Bakehouse, where she cooked with ethically and locally sourced produces and explored sourdough bread making principles over two years. Each menu she creates is inspired by the flavours of different cuisines, including Sephardic Jewish, Istanbul Rum (Greeks), Armenian, Circassian and more which perhaps unrecognised or hidden, make up Turkey’s modern-day culinary culture. Between 2018 – August, 2019 March, Irem was the chef-in-residence at October Gallery ‘s Restaurant in Bloomsbury, London. She also has been collaborating with Delfina Foundation for the foundation’s traditional “family lunch and dinner” series since the summer 2019.
In summer 2022, Irem opened Sage which is a pop-up summer restaurant in North Aegean coast of Turkey. Sage Cunda is based on Mediterranean – European food, daily casual space for specialty coffee with freshly baked pastries and reservation only dining space for late afternoons & evenings.
Irem’s cooking also focuses on ideas of sustainability, old cooking and preserving techniques as well as a new era of diversity in food cultures in Istanbul and beyond.
Alongside running Topik London’s events, Irem carries on her daily professional kitchen routine in London-based restaurants as a chef and menu development consultant.
Open Kitchen: interdisciplinary food talks
Irem produces Open Kitchen radio show at Açık Radyo (Open Radio) which is considered as one of the rare independent institutions in the Turkish media scene.
Selected dinner series/exhibition/collaborations
SAGE CUNDA – SEASONAL LUNCH & DINNER, AYVALIK, TURKEY
LUNCH & DINNER SERIES AT DELFINA FOUNDATION, LONDON
COOKING CLASS AT LAS ALPUJARRAS, IN ANDALUSIA, SPAIN IN COLLABORATION WITH LAS CHIMENEAS,
LUNCH + DINNER SERIES 2019, August-present at Delfina Foundation, London
TOPIK CHEF RESIDENCY AT OCTOBER GALLERY 2018, August-2019,March
Future Of Food Salon Series by Future Scales @Bernsteins Bar x Irem Aksu
Bernstein’s Bar, London
Talk + dinner about how to build sustainable supply chains, and what the food industry can do to develop and support transparent and meaningful supply chains
Istanbul Urban Feast Series
2018, January / March / May
Simple, fresh, vibrant food of Istanbul urban culinary culture
7 Hills of Istanbul “Festive”
2017, November/two nights
E5 Bakehouse, London
Dishes on the menu are inspired by the festive tables of non-muslim communities in Istanbul
One Night In Za’atar & Secret Supper Club
2017, April & November
Vinyl Factory, Soho, London – Event in collaboration with OXFAM UK – Syrian inspired street food has common flavours of South Eastern Turkey
HOPS, SUCUK + EKMEK
40ft Brewery, London
A street food performance paired with the first IPA brewed and named as Turkish word SEREFE – Cheers!
A POMEGRANATE ODYSSEY: FROM ISTANBUL TO YEREVAN
E5 Bakehouse, London
Dinning experience for Londoners to explore the tangled bitter roots of two countries’ shared memories through food
photos by Sebnem Ugural
The Ditch, Shoreditch Town Hall, London
Private View – Featuring food project Topik by Irem Aksu, incorporating cultural and historical elements – food without borders