Building a Platter with Halley Zelicoff

FORMULATED is a journal about the rituals we create around the home, the objects that bring us joy, and the stories behind how things are made.

Charcuterie served on the Tortuga Forma Kaolin Platter or "Cheesier said than done" @halleyz

Chef and food stylist Halley Zelicoff arranges sumptuous platters, starting with a carefully chosen ceramic dish. Inside her 21 x 33" workspace (a kitchen countertop), she makes food come alive on the plate. Our favorite @halleyz Instagram moments find uni nestled in pairs on a hand cut bed of tartare, crab claws reaching outside the edges of a dish. In one, an extra long octopus tentacle infinitely spirals inward hugging chunks of grill charred blood orange. We sat down with Halley (pronounced like the comet), over a vermouth to chat about food, ceramics, the magic of small kitchens, and her love of puns for Instagram captions.

What makes a generous and beautiful platter? What’s your starting point?

A beautiful and generous platter is comprised of lots of texture and color. I like my platters full, where everything is edible. It’s generally one particular ingredient that sparks the desire to create a platter, then I fill in with supporting characters to achieve something beautiful and bountiful. 

"Shucking delicious" @halleyz
I always keep fresh herbs in my fridge and when it’s warm enough I try and grow all my herbs and edible flowers in hanging baskets on my fire escape.

What’s an object that you love in your home? Can you describe the rituals and things you do with it?

My ceramics cabinet. I bought a used mid century modern cabinet from Bedford Galleries to create a space for my monstera who is taking over my living space (she’s my pride and joy); I was unable to walk past her without brushing up against the leaves so I wanted to get her off the floor. This piece fits perfectly in the space and has become my bar cabinet, and the place where I store my more delicate ceramics and objects.

I store my delicate, showy pieces that deserve to be on display in my ceramics cabinet.

Can you share highlights from your personal collection of plates and why you love them?

I collect ceramics wherever I go, they hold many memories of travel and experiences I’ve had. I generally lean more towards neutral, earth tones, and light blues and greens; I find these colors to be really food friendly, especially with natural light. I look for varying shapes, sizes, and textures in my ceramics and love to mix and match.

I love all of the texture, color and movement in Cara Janelle's work. She creates pieces for restaurants around the world.

Can you speak about your workspace? How do you use this space to work, reflect, and/or play?

I live in a small one bedroom with very limited kitchen and work space. Keeping things relatively minimal, and very clean and organized are the only ways to make this space functional for me. I pride myself on creating magic with 21 x 33" of counter space. I have built shelves in my kitchen to create practical storage space where I can store my ceramics collection in the open and also try to create functional storage with my furniture.

Can you share your guilty food indulgences? Are there dishes you enjoy consuming that have nothing to do with how appetizing they look?

Nachos! They are textural perfection and I love all the different toppings; my ideal nachos must have queso. Congee and Pastina are two foods that I love but often don’t look particularly appetizing. I love how simple they appear while being extremely comforting and adaptable. 

I have extremely limited space so I try to keep things really tidy and practical.
  1. Building a Platter with Halley Zelicoff

    Chef and food stylist Halley Zelicoff arranges sumptuous platters, each starting with a simple but carefully chosen ceramic dish. Inside a 21 x 33" workspace (her kitchen countertop), she makes food come alive on the plate.
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