Istanbul's young culinary stars speak about their passion for food and discuss their kitchen secrets
ISTANBUL — Nowadays , becoming a chef is one of the most popular professions for young people, especially in Turkey. New chefs are stars in the eyes of the customers. Some were trained in the United States and some entered the kitchen in different countries, including Australia and Japan. The kitchens of Istanbul's most popular restaurants are now entrusted to them. We met the young and successful chefs at the trendy restaurant of Gümüşsuyu and talked about the reasons why they chose this profession, their favorite foods and the dishes we should eat before we die.
Times have changed. Becoming a chef has become one of the most popular professions. In the past, when we went to a restaurant and were asked who the chef was, we would not know and we would not care. Especially in Turkey, becoming a chef was a profession from father to son. Ten years ago, going overseas to become a chef was not the norm. Today, chefs such as Gordon Ramsey, Alain Ducasse and Jamie Oliver are greeted like celebrities. People go to restaurants just to see these chefs.
In our country, being a chef has become one of the most popular professions. For our interviews at Gümüşsuyu, we entered the kitchen among the meat, cakes and sweets. We talked about the dishes they love and the ones they never eat. By the way, if you think that the chefs eat everything, you are wrong. Some do not like okra, some say, "I never eat offal." They are in the kitchen all day but rarely cook at home.
Deniz Ahmet Köse (Tom's Kitchen)
'I confess: I like fast food'
May I ask you to share your tricks in the kitchen? Sincerity and all-out simplicity. Of course, using quality ingredients is very important. Before serving the dish you should taste it first and think about how to make it more delicious. Seasonality is very important. There's a famous old saying, "Use tomato in the summer and tomato paste in the winter." It's really true.
Give us a secret. Are there any dishes that youlove aren't gourmet?
I suppose my biggest secret is that I still secretly consume fast food.
Umut Karakuş (Double Meze)
'I like to eat while cooking'
Why did you become a chef? Which do you like more, to eat or to cook?
Probably eating while cooking. We have long tasting spoons and deliciously smelling cookers. Moreover, we have the opportu- nity to experiment something new every day. The kitchen is a won- derful place. These are enough for me to become a chef.
What if I ask about the most difficult customer type?
The ones who ask, "Where's my food?" before the end of cooking time of their dish.
What would you cook for a romantic dinner to impress your date?
Beetroot flavored purslane salad with goat cheese, sautéed brussels sprouts over grilled granyoz flavored with orange emul- sion. Rose leaf and profiterole balls flavored with chocolate straw- berry cardamom.
Mustafa Cihan Kıpçak (Gile)
'Don't cook when you don't want to'
Are there any tastes we should try before we die?
Kobe calf, kid meat in its season, etlice truffle (you can find that in Muğla), Osetra caviar, Dom Ruinart 1991 Blanc de Blanc, parrotfish.
Do you have any tricks in the kitchen?
Learn to be patient. Add salt to the food while cooking. Don't cook when you don't want to. Culinary work comes from the heart and is a you.
Are there any types of customers that annoy you?
Usually there are three types of customers that annoy us. The ones who know more than the chef and sommelier, the ones who have conservative taste and the ones who don't know what they want. There are customers at Gile who try to teach us the job and customers who ask for just tomatoes and cheese. We gently refuse.
What's the troubled thing about cooking?
At the end of the day you smell like food and return home with an army of street dogs behind you.
Pelin Çakar (Lucca, Cantinery)
'I can spend a lifetime drinking soup'
Is culinary a masculine profession or a feminine pro- fession?
Actually it's a masculine stance touched with a feminine aesthetic.
Is there any food you're obsessed with? Food you caneat every day?
I think I like everything that's homemade. I can spend a lifetime drinking soup.
Your spices and the flavors you add to your food arefamous. Can you give us some hints?
I'm fond of aromas. That's why I use aroma bouquets while cooking. I prepare fresh spices with zest and I tie them with a string. In a word, I make a small bouquet. First I want it to smell nice, then I want it to be noticed by its taste.
What kind of tastes do Turks like?
We like extreme and contrasting tastes. Very sour or very
Melda Tuna (Louis)
'I've turned my hobby to my profession'
Is cooking your hobby or your profession?
Both, I've turned my hobby to my profession.
What are the flavors that we should try before we die?
White truffles, escargot and pata negra. spicy is indispensable for us. We react to neutral flavors.
Üryan Doğmuş (Gile)
'Women are surely impressed'
Many people expect boys to be attracted to profes- sions related to automobiles instead of being a chef.
As a child, I was interested in two things: one was cars and the other food. I first wanted to study motor sports. How- ever, it did not take much of my time to realize that it was not for me. To be able to cook the right food at the right time and taste is more than a good enough reason to become a chef.
Are there types of customers you cannot stand?
Those who insist on being too much of a gourmet and try to impress others by a couple of newly learned sentences and read information. If there is such a customer at a table that night, the evening is usually ruined for the rest. But of course, we shouldn't generalize this, for there are very good gourmets who know what they are doing and add flavor to the food.
Do you cook at home? Is cooking a way to impresswomen?
Women are surely impressed. However, it is unthinkable for me to even enter the kitchen at home. It would be like a professional football player practicing on an astro pitch.