Turk­ish chef Özlem War­ren who lives in the U.K. brings most-loved Turk­ish recipes to­gether for her new cook­book in English, of­fer­ing a peek into the Turk­ish cui­sine

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Lifestyle - Leyla Yvonne Ergil

LIKE me and many a for­eigner in­ter­ested in Turk­ish food, the beau­ti­ful and in­for­ma­tive blog “Özlem’s Turk­ish Ta­ble” has be­come an in­dis­pens­able culi­nary en­cy­clo­pe­dia of Turk­ish dishes and how to prop­erly pre­pare them. There­fore, like many oth­ers I was thrilled to learn that Özlem War­ren would be re­leas­ing her own cook­book this year and even more ex­cited to hear that she will be in town in Bodrum this month for a num­ber of cook­ing classes and culi­nary events. So, I tracked her down to find out more about her blog, new cook­book and up­com­ing cook­ing classes in Turkey and abroad.

For years “Özlem’s Turk­ish Ta­ble” has been the de­fin­i­tive blog for cu­ri­ous for­eign food­ies to learn about tra­di­tional Turk­ish food, and this year she has com­piled a cook­book of the same name, which also in­cludes recipes from her na­tive An­takya.

Hail­ing from this culi­nary heaven, Özlem had a cor­po­rate back­ground in Is­tan­bul be­fore she and her Bri­tish hus­band went to the United States for his MBA de­gree 15 years ago. While they now live in the U.K., they ini­tially moved to Austin, Texas, where Özlem as a Turk­ish ex­pat, first got the op­por­tu­nity to teach her cul­ture’s food at the pres­ti­gious Cen­tral Mar­ket Cook­ing Schools in Texas. It was from that ex­pe­ri­ence that she would be­gin pub­lish­ing her recipes on the blog “Özlem’s Turk­ish Ta­ble.”

A self-de­scribed home cook, al­though she has gone on to take a num­ber of culi­nary classes and cer­tifi­cate pro­grams in the U.S., Özlem tells me she has al­ways been pas­sion­ate about Turk­ish cook­ing and her culi­nary her­itage. She also was in­stilled with the im­por­tance of shar­ing from an early age. She not only wanted to share the south­ern Turk­ish spe­cial­ties from her roots, but she also no­ticed that not many recipes are writ­ten down with ac­cu­rate mea­sure­ments. “So with my blog, I wanted to share these au­then­tic recipes in a way folks around the world can recre­ate eas­ily,” Özlem said.

I asked Özlem if writ­ing her blog on Turk­ish cui­sine has changed her life to which she said: “It has changed my life im­mensely. Shar­ing is a big part of our cul­ture; for us, it is our way of say­ing that we care,” she said adding: “In Turk­ish we say ‘Pay­laştikca ar­tan mut­lu­luk’, which means, ‘Hap­pi­ness that grows with shar­ing’ and this shar­ing and con­nect­ing with food lovers around the world, see­ing their ap­pre­ci­a­tion, has given me such hap­pi­ness. Shar­ing the recipes on my blog and teach­ing Turk­ish cook­ery en­abled me to stay con­nected with my home­land and Turk­ish food lovers around the world.”

Özlem’s blog has taken her all over the world shar­ing and teach­ing Turk­ish cui­sine. In ad­di­tion to teach­ing cook­ing work­shops in the U.S. and the U.K., Özlem also teaches in Amman in Jor­dan, she hosts sup­per clubs, runs culi­nary tours to Turkey and even had the plea­sure of be­ing a part of the Turk­ish Chefs of the World (Dünyanin Türk Şe­fleri) TV show that aired on TRT as well as in 37 coun­tries. An­other ca­reer high­light has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in pres­ti­gious events such as the Taste of Lon­don, the Lon­don Book Fair and var­i­ous food fes­ti­vals to pro­mote Turk­ish cui­sine and cul­ture.

Özlem tells me one of the big­gest high­lights for her so far with her book has been be­ing in­vited as a guest au­thor at this year’s In­ter­na­tional Ed­in­burgh Book Fes­ti­val where she was in­ter­viewed by cook­book au­thor Ghillie Basan and got to talk about south­ern Turk­ish cui­sine with over 100 peo­ple in at­ten­dance.

The book “Özlem’s Turk­ish Ta­ble,” which is sched­uled for gen­eral re­lease in Jan­uary of 2019, has sold 1,700 copies al­ready. I asked Özlem how she came about pre­par­ing her own cook­book and she told me: “My cook­ery book has been a dream of mine for over 10 years. My blog, ‘Özlem’s Turk­ish Ta­ble,’ acted as my ‘on­line cook­ery book;’ the more I pub­lished recipes, my reader base grew, hence the in­ter­est for a book. I also wanted my book to fo­cus on South­ern Turk­ish cook­ing, es­pe­cially the cui­sine of my home­town An­takya, as the cui­sine is as di­verse and cos­mopoli­tan as the peo­ple that call this city their home.”

In her cook­book, Özlem show­cases au­then­tic dishes pre­pared at home, while high­light­ing influences from Le­van­tine cui­sine in fam­ily recipes passed down to her from her an­ces­tors and adding per­sonal sto­ries to the recipes. “Turk­ish cui­sine is also healthy, fam­ily friendly and most dishes are easy to pre­pare so I wanted to show­case these as­pects too,” she added.

I asked Özlem if she thought Turk­ish food was gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity abroad and she said that yes, there is a grow­ing trend for healthy eat­ing, cuisines with culi­nary heri- tage, which fits per­fectly for Turk­ish cui­sine. Ve­gan and vege­tar­ian foods are also ris­ing trends and Turk­ish cui­sine pro­vides a va­ri­ety of op­tions, which are al­ways pop­u­lar at my classes,” Özlem said. From Nov. 7 to 10, Özlem will be teach­ing a se­ries of cook­ing classes at the Cen­tral Mar­ket Cook­ing Schools in Hous­ton, Austin, Dal­las and San An­to­nio. This Sun­day, Oct. 14, Özlem will be teach­ing a Hands On Mas­ter­class at Diver­ti­ment Cook­ery School in Lon­don from noon to 3:30 p.m. Then, from Novem­ber 7 to 10, Özlem will be do­ing a road­show of Texas, teach­ing a se­ries of cook­ery classes at the Cen­tral Mar­ket Cook­ing Schools in Hous­ton, Austin, Dal­las and San An­to­nio.

But be­fore that, Özlem will be com­ing to Bodrum for a num­ber of won­der­ful events where she will share her ex­per­tise in Turk­ish cui­sine. Her whirl­wind Bodrum tour be­gins with a hands-on south­ern Turk­ish cook­ery class at the Foodrum Culi­nary Park, on Thurs­day, Oct. 25, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dishes on the menu in­clude muham­mara, mer­cimekli mualla, stuffed cour­gettes and An­takya-style pump­kin dessert. There is limited room for the course so if you want to at­tend, make sure to re­serve a spot.

Later in the day on Oct. 25 at 3 p.m., Özlem will be giv­ing a talk on Turk­ish cui­sine, with a fo­cus on South­ern Turk­ish cook­ing at the Herodotus Academy, H3A Bodrum, at the Oa­sis Con­fer­ence Room in Bodrum. This is an event open to all Turk­ish food lovers, and she will also be sign­ing copies of the book “Özlem’s Turk­ish Ta­ble.” Then, on Fri­day, Oct. 26 from 7 p.m. on­ward, Özlem will be hold­ing an An­takyastyle sup­per club at Kar­nas Vine­yard.

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