Simply the best: Türkiye’s top chefs, venues and startups

Leyla Yvonne Ergil

Awards are being doled out to Türkiye’s top culinary stars and one particular type of startup is starting to dominate the world. Here’s an update on the country’s creme de la creme in gastronomy

As the new year has gotten underway and we welcome February, here is a recap of the top accolades and success stories in Türkiye’s culinary world.

Getir, the ‘go-getter’

If you haven’t yet heard of Getir, it is high time you do. Not only is it an extremely convenient and affordable service to have pretty much anything you could want from a grocery store or restaurant delivered timely to your door, but it is also now Europe’s first delivery decacorn, which in layman’s terms means it is a new company worth at least $10 billion (TL 188.10 billion). Calling Getir, which is actually worth $12 billion, just a “service” does it a disservice. It refers to itself to as an ultrafast grocer on its app and delivers an immensely wide array of grocery store items and pretty much any kind of food you could want from a selection of restaurants.

Founded in Türkiye in 2015, the startup is also now available in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. In Türkiye, the restaurant courier service is available anywhere restaurants sign up and the grocery service is provided in 35 different cities. In a display of gratitude for the efforts exerted by the couriers themselves delivering the items, Technology and Industry Minister Mustafa Varank marked the new year by donning a Getir delivery uniform and riding the company scooter to surprise dormitory students.

I personally can’t recommend this life-changing app enough, especially when it comes to their grocery store service as it allows you to easily select from a seriously wide selection of items and many geared towards convenience, such as washed, cut and cleaned produce, a wide array of cheese, international sauces, extensive pasta selections, charcuterie meats and so much more. Not only is it affordable, but it arrives fast and the app allows you to track the stages of your order and even the precise location of the courier en route to your address and all at an affordable price.

World’s top olive oil

The start of 2023 also saw the announcement of last year’s EVOO World Ranking List, which is the most prestigious global rating of the world’s top olive oil brands. Selected from a blind taste test of judges who tried 16,000 different types of olive oil from 42 different countries, Türkiye’s NovaVera Zeytinyağı ranked fourth for top “society.” This also made the Ayvalık-based brand Türkiye’s best-tasting olive oil and in particular with their Yamalak Sarısı variation taking the top accolades. Other award-winning selections from NovaVera included Tirilye, Memecik, Organic and Ayvalık early harvest series as well as their Aegean blend. Hermus Arbeqia from Manisa came in second for Türkiye, with Gaia Oliva, also from Ayvalık, following as Türkiye’s top third brand.

With NovaVera’s Yamalak Sarısı ranking fourth in the world and also being the first time a Türkish brand made the top five, Türkiye also came in fourth worldwide for producing the best olive oil with 685 awards from 81 olive oil types making it into the top 200.

Bulgur cookbook

The cookbook “Anadolu’dan Dünyaya Armağan: Bulgur” (“Bulgur: A gift from Anatolia to the World”), which shares the history of bulgur and recipes, was the recipient of the 2022 Gourmand Awards “Best in the World” award. An academic, writer and television presenter, Asuman Kerkez has also done a documentary on bulgur and its history for TRT.

Award-winning chefs, venues

Türkiye’s gastronomy rating Mutfak Dostları Derneği (Cuisine Friends Association) held their annual Altın Kaşık Ödülleri – in English Gold Spoon Awards – on Jan. 17, awarding the country’s top chefs and restaurants. Coming as no surprise, Maksut Aşkar of Neolokal was awarded as the year’s best Türkish chef. Eataly’s Claudio Chinali was named the best foreign chef in Türkiye. The best newcomer is now Yaren Çarpar of Besiktaş’ Ema Bakery & Catering and best pastry chef was awarded to Metin Saruhanlı of the Arpege patisseries in Izmir and Çeşme.

As for restaurants, Kadıköy’s Yanyalı Fehmi was selected as best traditional restaurant. It is a classic Türkish restaurant serving up a wonderful selection of Turkish fare and of course stews, meat dishes and vegetable dishes as well as manti and böreks.

Fauna, which won best foreign concept for venue, is a top-notch Italian restaurant whose chef Ibrahim Tuna incorporates Türkish ingredients in his dishes. The minimalist and quaint restaurant in Ataşehir only accepts customers from noon to 2 p.m., so reservations are near mandatory, but the soups, salads, pasta and desserts are deserving of planning for. Aslanboğa Kokoreç, which focuses on the offal classic, is actually located in Balıkesir and was named the best single-item eatery, and Leone, which has three huge branches in Izmir, was selected as the best patisserie. The year’s best produce-selling shop was Antre Gourmet.

Michelin Star restaurants

Chef Fatih Tutak notoriously received two Michelin stars for his eponymously named Turk Fatih Tutak restaurant in Bomonti when the Michelin Guide announced their first-ever Istanbul selection in October. Making the chef a new Türkish culinary star, it has been announced that Tutak will become the directing chef of a new restaurant named Gallada to be housed in the Peninsula Istanbul Hotel. This new hotel in Galataport will open on Feb. 14, with Gallada said to be coming this summer and to feature a fusion of Türkish and Asian cuisine.

Four other Istanbul restaurants also received Michelin stars, including Maksut Aşkar’s Neolocal in Salt Galata, which also received a “Green Star” for its eco-friendly and ethical efforts in preserving Türkiye’s culinary heritage. The Türkish-Finnish chef Mehmet Gürs’ Mikla in Beyoğlu, Nicole, which is also located in Beyoglu and whose chef is Serkan Aksoy, and finally the fare served up by chef Zeynep Pınar Taşdemir Araka in Yeniköy is the fourth.

Courtesy: Dailysabah