Meet David Zilber the Chef Who Sees Harry Styles as a Fashion Icon 2021

Meet David Zilber the Chef Who Sees Harry Styles as a Fashion Icon 2021

In the past, chef David Zilber has said that what fascinates him about fermentation is the process of seeing something transform. The Toronto native has become widely acclaimed for this approach to experimentation in the kitchen—in the fermentation lab at Noma, the Copenhagen-based restaurant, then through The Noma Guide to Fermentation, and now as a food scientist at the Denmark-based bioscience company Chr.

Hansen. This ethos spills over into experimentation in his approach to clothing, too. It doesn’t necessarily translate to impracticality (when it comes to fermentation or getting dressed), and more often than not, Zilber, who is an avid consumer of fashion, is simply clothed in looks that set him apart from the masses with some detail a lucky observer might pick up on: a flared pant, a Raf Simons shoe, or a coat in a material so reflective it seems made for outer space (or, the internet).

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Meet David Zilber, the Chef Who Sees Harry Styles as a Fashion Icon 2021

As Zilber leads research into food’s environmental impacts and global systems, he insists that the most sustainable and equitable paths forward must also taste good—which points to another overlap between his work and his closet. His approach encourages lessening our impact on the world around us while still delighting in what we put on (and in) our bodies every day.

Over Zoom this week—nearing dinnertime in Copenhagen, where he lives, and lunchtime in New York—he spoke about the importance of dressing up (in Issey Miyake, Sies Marjan, and Henrik Vibskov) now more than ever; why he looks to Harry Styles as a fashion icon, and self-expression, even in the kitchen. 

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Meet David Zilber Chef Who Sees Harry Styles as a Fashion Icon


What were you wearing yesterday?

What was I wearing yesterday? I wish I were messier, because then it would be in a pile somewhere beside me right now.Yesterday, I think I was wearing black Henrik Vibskov pants and a black, long-sleeve Lemaire polo—a  fairly Scandanavian look. But I also didn’t do much yesterday, because 2020. I’ve been working from home.

Would you say that spending more of life at home—and more virtually—has changed the way you get dressed these days? 

I find myself dressing up more—even to do very simple things—because I’m like, “It’s my only chance to look good!” Even if it’s just for the grocery store. It feels like a desperate attempt at self-expression any chance you actually get to be in the world, in any faculty of normalcy. But at home, I’ve been reaching for comfortable things: I actually bought a full sweatsuit recently. Most often, though, I’m in one of my two Issey Miyake Homme Plissé suits.

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Pleats Please is the perfect mid-point between those sartorial impulses.

They are so smart. Issey Miyake is actually a genius. You can honestly travel in them, roll around in them, sleep in them, and come out looking incredibly fresh. I got to see the process of making them in Japan last year, super cool.

What were you wearing as a teenager? As a fellow Canadian I hope we have some shared references here. 

I was completely dorky [laughs]. I was probably wearing jeans that were baggy but not baggy enough—somewhere in that awkward range—and then maybe one of my dad’s old t-shirts. He used to be an airline mechanic so he had all these old Boeing and de Havilland t-shirts that I would wear. At some point I shaved myself a bad mohawk, like a short one. And then probably skate shoes. So awkward. Honestly if you look at the embarrassing Drake-as-a-teenager photos it’s not far off from that—we have the Black, Jewish, Toronto upbringing in common.

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Do you think your approach to style has evolved based on the various places you’ve lived? I’m always curious about how different cities might rub off on the way we present ourselves.

I think I lived in Toronto too young. I came out of my shell there in my early 20s, but was wearing what was trendy at the time—Cheap Monday jeans, that sort of thing. When I moved to Vancouver I leaned into “fashion” more, really as a means of differentiating myself from the Vancouver-ness of Vancouver (my girlfriend at the time even worked for Lululemon).

Meet David Zilber Chef Who Sees Harry Styles as a Fashion Icon

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Meet David Zilber Chef Who Sees Harry Styles as a Fashion Icon

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