Turkish market // © 2009 Gail M. Tang
Travelers can now experience the culinary side of Turkey thanks to the Istanbul Culinary Institute (ICI). The culinary training and production center, which was opened in 2008, was created to help educate travelers about and promote traditional Turkish dishes. The ICI offers a wide range of culinary experiences and specializations, ranging from one-hour guest lectures to several day-long culinary excursions.
Turkey’s diverse culinary traditions began in the Ottoman Empire and encompass elements from the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The ICI houses numerous chefs and culinary tutors with knowledge of the history of Turkey’s foods. The institute has its own training restaurant, coffee and wine bars and a gourmet food store housing some of Turkey’s finest cooking ingredients.
Many ICI tours include visit to local food markets. ICI’s Istanbul Culinary Walking Tour & Demo, for example, encompasses an introduction to Turkish street and market food on a stroll through the city. Another tour includes a visit to the Kadikoy open market where authentic Turkish vendors sell local cheeses, meats, pickles and vegetables at specialty shops. Guests can also learn about and visit the historic Spice Market, which dates as far back as the early 1900s on the Fish and Spice Market Tour. At the end of each tour, guests return to the institute for a Turkish cooking demonstration with products purchased at the markets. The tours are available from Monday through Saturday and pricing starts at $90 per person.
For those who want a more interactive experience, the ICI also offers four-hour long cooking classes that are taught by a professional chef faculty member. The cooking classes include subjects such as “Turkish Pastry Works,” “Basic Kitchen Skills With Wusthof,” “Cooking Without Recipes,” “Traditional Turkish Cuisine” and more. Prices begin at $75 per person with a minimum of four people per class, or clients can receive individual lessons for $300.
For those who want to see more of Turkey, the ICI also offers culinary tours lasting from two to five day in length where guests can learn about seasonal food production and harvesting. This Decemeber, the institute is offering a two-day Annual Olive Harvest tour in Adatepe, during which clients will stay in a village town along the Kazdagi Mountains and learn about the legacy of Aegean culture. Tour dates vary by season and prices start at $330 per person.