Melih İçigen – Turkish Chef and lecturer at Cappadocia University
Chef Melih İçigen graduated in 2009 with the first rank from the Department of Culinary Arts at Cappadocia University entered on a scholarship. He competed at the International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival, Categories of the International Golden Junior Chef of the Year (2009) and National Practical Team Competition (2011) and won awards. After the graduation, Melih Chef participated to the Association of Arab and African Governments Summit three times, and his third participation was crowned with the Letter of Appreciation of the King of Morocco.
Moreover, he took charge as “Executive Chef” in various concept cuisine and fine dining restaurants in both Istanbul and Izmir, as “Instructor Chef” at Istanbul Aydın University/ Cookery Programme, as “Executive Instructor Chef” and at the same time as “VIP Chef” at private educational institutions.
Also, during a year, Melih Chef appeared on the screen every weekday in the Culinary Programme broadcasted on Turkmax Gurme (Bein Gurme) channel in Digiturk. He has scored 6 different menus while making R-D and Executive Chef in Özsüt which is Turkey’s oldest pastry and dessert chain. Currently, he works as a lecturer at Cappadocia University/Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Programme.
A Chef portrait of Melih İçigen
Melih, when did your culinary journey start? Where does your passion for cooking come from?
My passion for cooking started when I have met the traditional Turkish food culture equipped with rich food varieties and table talks.
Which school did you graduated from?
Cappadocia University, Vocational Collage-Culinary Arts Programme.
What kind of experience did you have being a trainer chef?
Training is an outstanding emotion. Moreover, my greatest experience was to learn while teaching. On the other hand, sharing my experience with the students and observing their improvements in the light of my experiences made me glad.
The Turkish kitchen is very traditional and with so many different aspects depending on the regions. What are your favourite traditional Turkish dishes?
From the North to the South and from the East to the West Turkey has a rich kitchen. For this reason, it is too difficult to seperate dishes from each other and choose any of them. Thus, I love them all seperately. However, I am going to give a few examples:
- Marmara Region: Stuffed Mackerel
- Aegean Region: Shevketi Bostan with lamb meat
- Mediterranean Region: Adana Kebab
- Black Sea Region: Laz Böregi (Patty)
- Central Anatolia: Manti (Pasty)
- Southeastern Anatolian Region: Ala Nazik
- Eastern Anatolian Region: Cag Kebab
What is about the modern Turkish kitchen – what is new, what are the trends?
Currently in Turkey, local ingredients are in the foreground, also healthy, stylish and simple presentations are more prominent. On the other hand, since meat dishes are more prefered, steakhouse population has inclined. In addition, tavern concepts including raki (Turkish drink) and the appetizers (more flamboyand and varied) are so popular.
Does fusion kitchen apply as well in the Turkish kitchen?
Imagine an empire reigning on 3 continents which the vegetables, fruits and spices grow on. Therefore, Turkish Cuisine has already become a fusion by the intercultural interaction it has taken over from the Ottoman Empire. In addition, with the rise of gastronomy in recent years, it has been inevitable to see the fusion in the menus.
How would you describe your own culinary line today?
It will be a little philosophical but as Heraclitus says; “The only thing that is constant is change” and kitchen that constantly develops itself is both a science and an art. On the other hand, I would like to prefer making tastes away from product confusion with less ingredients. It can be called as simplicity but I think simplicity covers beauty, because I use different cooking techniques together in order to reach permanent tastes. That’s why I have been able to create products that reflect my own style in every kitchen since the beginning of my career.
Can you share some of your current recipes with us? (➔ recipes of the top chefs)
Of course. I can share a starter recipe with you.
Potato Trilogy (Ginger Potato Soup, Potato Tartar on Cucumber Carpaccio, Vanilla Potato Croquettes)
Ginger Potato Soup
- 10 g of butter
- 1 onion (brunoise chopped)
- 4 medium sized potatoes (maceduan chopped)
- 200 ml of milk
- 1 g powdered ginger
- 3 g fresh ginger (planed)
- 1 pcs chives (garnish)
- 1 dried tomatoes (garnish)
In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat, add grated ginger and brunoise onion to cook for 1 minute. Add the flour…[You find the full mouthwatering recipe here: ➔ Potato Trilogy by Melih İçigen]
Thank you, sounds delicious! If you could choose any place in the world you have not been yet, where would you like to work as a chef for some time? (➔ job offers on Cook Concern)
Due to increasing interest for gastronomy and variety of products I would like to work in Peru.
Thank you very much, Melih!
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