As far as the majority know him, Onur Basturk is one of the best lifestyle journalists in Turkey and even the flag bearer of his generation in this field.


For almost 20 years, Onur has always been where the audience hungry for innovation was. Whether it was magazines, newspapers, television, or the internet, Onur was there, keeping his finger on the pulse of the trends.
He is known for finding and experiencing the newest & the finest and sharing these with his audience. In a sense, Onur has been influencing the masses since the days when the concept of ‘influencer’ did not exist. He does not merely follow the trends; he creates his own sensations.
However, it would be unfair to say that journalism is the only thing that Basturk, who constantly adapts and improves himself and presents all his new curiosities to the world as new projects, does.
He is a book writer, composer, and event organizer as well. And as of recently, with his latest project, ‘Yuzu’, he is also a brand owner.
Onur also just happens to be a true Aegean lover — which is another aspect of him that mostly those who have the chance to see him as a close friend, like me, know.
While preparing the ‘Friends of YEK’ interviews, I was jotting down the titles that came to my mind to describe those who are constantly inspired by the Aegean.
As soon as I thought of the phrase “My heart has stayed in the Aegean” (a song, or an open love letter to the Aegean, by Sezen Aksu), Onur was the first to cross my mind.
With his fondness for the Aegean, his articles that sends his readers to the Aegean shores, and his Sezen Aksu references, I knew that this was the right title for Onur, and Onur was the right name for this title.
Thankfully, Onur accepted my invitation. We have come together to talk about his latest project, which we follow with admiration, hoping that this little chat would let everyone know him a little better with his most sincere side…

With all these travels, eating and drinking, events, organizations, and various other productions, one cannot help but wonder, how and when do you write your articles? How do you find the time to put your inspirations and observations down on paper?
Seriously, how does this happen?

I can write my articles “any time and every time”. As long as I concentrate, I’m fast and practical about it 🙂
As a matter of fact, without socializing and traveling, it would have been more difficult for me to write because these are the things that feed me. What I see and observe turns into writing after a point. So the two are actually one, and as long as there is one, the other will surely emerge as well. 

Do you have a notebook where you write down what you are inspired by, what you want to remember, what you will write, and where you scribble your ideas?
Or what is a columnist’s routine of gathering inspiration and ideas?

I don’t have a notebook! The “notes” app on my iPhone is my biggest helper. I’m taking notes there. Especially the food names. You also know that some food names and ingredients are very long, and it is impossible to memorize them.
My storage of inspiration and ideas, on the other hand, came into being spontaneously thanks to the writing routine of many years. As soon as I go somewhere, writing starts to form in my head. My visual memory opens the past folders, and I begin to think, “this place looks like that other place”, and look at what I have accumulated. So everything triggers each other.

I know that beyond all the adjectives you have and the dozens of hats you wear in your social and business life, you see yourself first and foremost as a writer (be it a columnist, a novelist, or any kind of a writer really…).
Do you have a must-have or a ritual while writing, such as being alone, being in a familiar or brand new environment, listening to music or absolute silence, etc.?

Well, I have written in the middle of the announcements at the airport, the breakfast room of a very magnificent hotel, or in the extreme heat of a lousy camping. It doesn’t matter to me. I guess I’m a “writing soldier,” in a way because my writing discipline is excellent. Even when I have a hangover, I just sit down and write. And then I myself will be surprised at how I wrote it! It’s ingrained in my cells, that discipline! But of course, it is best to write on a quiet balcony that is overlooking nature.

With your unique style, I think you are one of the writers who interpret cities, places, people, goings-on, and in short, life, in a matchless way. It’s like your writings don’t have a single style, pattern, or formula. They always give me a different feeling which is always sincere and sometimes even impulsive.
Is this something you do willfully? Have you felt an effort in this direction over the years?

Thank you, you made me happy.
There is actually a stylistic unity. For example, I use some word games and patterns rather often. But they are also constantly evolving. Nothing ever stays fixed with me because I love change. The thing I care about the most is that the writing is fluent. I want my writings to flow like water, especially for columns.
And yes, sometimes I do write impulsively. These are the writings that progress through the flow of consciousness. They feel tastier to me. I have more fun with those kinds of articles.
And sometimes, I fall into the popular culture quagmire.
And if I wrote something with boredom, I immediately tell it between the lines; I never hide it!

It must be difficult not to deviate from your own truths while writing down your observations and thoughts, and to criticize someone or something in line with those when appropriate, and even more so to strike a delicate balance in this. While the mere thought of such a situation is heavy for most people, including me, even the harshest criticisms of your writings flow without feeling a burden. How do you achieve this?

I don’t have a sensibility scale when writing. I guess it comes from within, and I think that’s how it should be. It’s very easy to criticize and be ruthless too. For a while, such articles were very in demand in the media. The deeper you sank something or someone, the more you read. I never liked that style. I think you have to empathize when you write. And when you empathize, you inevitably see the gray areas in between and write them down as well. You don’t just focus on the bad. Thus, while reading, the other party thinks, “He criticizes this and that, but also writes good things”. This is very important for me. That’s why I love it when someone says, “You write the good, and the bad,” which is what I’ve heard the most for years.

Let’s talk a little bit about Yuzu Mag…
It’s a very nice-sounding name, but there’s always more than one layer in your projects. What does Yuzu mean, for example?

Yuzu is a citrus variety of Asian origin. It grows mainly in Japan and Korea. It is similar to lemon, but its taste is more aromatic. It is a fruit that is used a lot in cooking as a sauce.
I chose this name because it is very straightforward, not English, pronounced as it is written, and makes you wonder what it means.
Also, of course, I love the simplicity of Japanese culture.

I think beyond being a magazine, Yuzu Mag is a formation that starts with nature and feeds on art, eating and drinking, and life.
How did this journey begin? Did your relationship with plants blossom first?
What gave birth to what in the process, and what other stops do you envision?

It first started as Yuzu Botanic because I’m really a plant freak! My house was overflowing with plants at the time and a dear friend of mine, Renkin Atik, was about to transform her office. So I offered to put some of the plants there. Putting them there, Yuzu Botanic’s first ‘corner’ was born spontaneously. With that, we have turned the office into a ‘space’. We organized events by bringing architects and designers together. Then I started to do plant styling for spaces. I loved that too.
During this period, the magazine was always on my mind.
Because I had to transfer the accumulation of years into another medium more intensively.
So, I started working before the pandemic, and just as the pandemic began, first the website and then the print version came to life.
But it’s not just a magazine. It’s about building a lifestyle community, a community where I will bring together tasteful people who like similar things.
It’s a Yuzu world…

How do you choose the subjects and people you include in YUZU? I wonder if your main criterion is your personal taste. And whether having your own platform gives you more freedom at this point…
At the end of the day, you also have a follower base with expectations from you within their own likes…

When creating a brand, you have to think of it as a human being and think about what it likes and dislikes. Yuzu has its own likes, dislikes, and unwritten rules. So, of course, I created these. This formation was accompanied by the exquisite design of my dear creative director Ozan Uzun. Thus, we have created an identity.
Of course, I value the likes of the audience, and sometimes I shape the content accordingly. But in the final analysis, I cannot put anything too far from Yuzu’s identity.
Yuzu is a libertarian character who does not pretend to be cool, gives importance to the natural, is innovative but knows the value of the old, unadorned, plain, calm, trying to understand, and infinitely curious about design/architecture/gastronomy.
If I could describe it, I would describe it like this 🙂

You recently announced on your social media that you had brought Yuzu Garden by Finesse into being, and you managed to create a wave of excitement again.
Can you talk a bit about what you are doing there?

As I said, there are already both plant sales and plant styling on the botanical side of Yuzu.
And The Paloma Finesse Hotel is the new brand of Club Marvy, whose aesthetics I like very much. Ece Tonbul, the owner of the hotel, and Feride Edige, the owner of her agency Pro, reached out to me and said they wanted to create a Yuzu Garden inside the hotel. It was an exciting project.
After creating the concept of the garden, we chose individual plants together with landscape architect Tülay Tosun. Then, in the short period of 10 days, we transformed what used to be a grassy land into a magnificent garden. Ficus Australis, which I positioned in the middle of the garden, symbolizes the “tree of life” in all cultures. That is birth, life, and death. It ended up being a garden that evokes movement and appealed to both the eye and the calmness of mind due to its Zen style.
More such projects will follow.

Let’s talk a little bit about the Aegean…
As you always say, “My heart has stayed in the Aegean”…

Unfortunately, the Aegean is having an unfortunate summer this year. We were all devastated by the fires, but I think there was a collective shake-up as well. People are now embracing the nature and what’s natural more than before.
Putting the fire misfortune aside, there are also promising gastronomic openings in the Aegean. Innovative, experimental restaurants began to open very often. But for these to be sustainable, of course, more qualitative tourists are needed. And it’s not just the local tourists…
Aside from all these, the Aegean side where my heart stayed the most this summer was the North Aegean side. Assos and its surroundings… Small villages at the foothills of the mountain.
These places are calm, shabby, unhurried, and are not ‘posh’ at all, unlike Çeşme and Bodrum…

You have had many trips all around the world. During all of these, has your heart always remained in the Aegean? Where do you put the Aegean in your heart and your mind?

My heart is not anchored in the Aegean 🙂
Of course, the Aegean is one of the places that I go to and spend the most time in, but it is still not my only one. Maybe I will feel that way one day, but for now, the places I haven’t seen yet are in the status of uniqueness. Bali is my number one, for example.
On the other hand, I am a very Nordic person as well 🙂 When I went to Iceland, I fell in love with that flat, mysterious geography. There is something about the North in my reincarnation past, that’s for sure 🙂

The Aegean always brings crowded tables, conversations extending into the night, toasting sounds, and songs sung together to mind.
How does a table you identify with the Aegean come to life in your mind?

I definitely think of a long table with friends. Sitting next to the sea for hours at a table where you touch the sand/stone with your feet, drinking raki/wine, and eating fresh/good food is one of the things that comes to my mind when I think of the Aegean.

This is not actually a question, but…
Continue the sentence: the Aegean and Sezen Aksu, for you…

Sorrow, sincerity, and the pangs of love :))

If one day you had one last trip, one last destination you would choose… One way, to go and not to return, to be rooted there… Where in the world would this be?

Hmm, tough question 🙂 I loved the energy and people of Buenos Aires. I feel like Los Angeles too, but let me vote for BA. There is everything in South America has it all for me 🙂

With the “Friends of YEK” series, we aim to introduce the precious people who add an Aegean beauty to life with their craftsmanship and elegance.

Click here to share their inspiration regarding nature, the Aegean, the art of living, and the very essence of creating.