Connect: Nelli Tombor

Nelli Tombor

Living in Brooklyn, Nelli Tombor is a Hungarian model turned chef and food editor. It is not an easy task writing a short introduction for a woman of so many wonders but get this: Nelli is equal parts talent, beauty and kindness. Beyond her successful career she balances the roles of social activist, local girl and loving wife while always seeking more fulfilment and understanding whether through travel or books. We recently met with Nelli and talked everything life, love and food...

Tell us a little about yourself – your greatest passions, your hopes, dreams and desires for yourself on both a personal and professional level.

I’ve been striving for harmony since my early childhood, and as a caring type of person, I find confrontation very hard. Cooking is a way to express my care and love. I’ve also passionately nurtured my environment since my years in a dorm. I would like to go on continuing to nourish both of these loves, on a personal and professional level. The dream is to open a bistro or a home restaurant.

My big dream is to own a beach house where I will live with my husband and future children. There will be a huge kitchen and we would invite interesting and kind people to cook together and chat until dawn.  

Where did your love of cooking stem from?

From the summers I spent at my grandmothers growing up. It was that time together I consider to be the most inspiring cooking wise, before taking on gastronomy in my twenties.

What is your favourite dish to cook? 

Oh, I have many! I love the Hungarian Ratatouille (Lecsó) that we make with Hungarian yellow pepper, and the Potato Pasta. Oh, and sholet, of course.

Keep an eye out for the Potato Pasta recipie up on our journal this weekend.

What do you hope to achieve through the work that you do?

I would like to bring people closer to each other. My experience is that people living in big cities are getting more and more closed and isolated. Cooking together and then sharing the food provides a different kind of spiritual bond that everybody should have the opportunity to experience. 

How do you intend to make your mark on this world?

I try to radiate happiness and encourage others to do the same. I practice acceptance, and I remind myself every day that, though I can’t change others, I can change how I react to them. I consider my failures and imperfections to be opportunities to improve and through them become a better person. 

Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

I can’t mention an exact place. So far, I have felt free the most near the ocean, let it be California, the Caribbean or the South of France. 

What is your most prized possession and why?

My watch that I got for my 30st birthday. That year I had two birthdays, that’s why it is so precious to me. 

What is the greatest piece of advice your mother passed down to you?

Only love matters. 

Who are your ultimate dinner party guests, either living or passed? 

I would be happy to cook mushroom paprikash to Nefertiti, Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald, Confucius, Leonardo da Vinci, Beethoven, H. C. Andersen, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Elvis, Antal Szerb and Sándor Márai. Among our contemporaries to Oprah Winfrey, Penelope Cruz, Malala Yousafzai, David Attenborough, Tenzin Gyatson, Michael Pollan, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Quentin Tarantino, Matt Damon, Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey and Leonardo DiCaprio.

What does natural living / beauty mean to you?

For me, natural living is nothing else but adaptation: to my environment and the possibilities provided by it, the needs of my body. To live in harmony with ourselves, others, with nature. To care and accept. To know that our decisions carry consequences and affect our body (both inside and outside) and nature, and it is up to our decision whether this affect is positive or negative. I go for the positive one.