Gastroartology and science

Gastroartology and science

Gastroartology? When you Google this word, be sure to be corrected! Insist on searching the exact word and you’ll reach a few pages, all leading you to Yeditepe University in Istanbul.

It is just because the term was coined by university professors, namely Gülveli Kaya, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, and Sibel Özilgen, head of the Department of Gastronomy and Culinary Arts. One may wonder the correlation between the fine arts and gastronomy departments, but the answer is quite simple, the gastronomy department is established within the Faculty of Fine Arts, and provides education within the same faculty.

Professr Kaya states that this is not only a structural coincidence but a deliberate choice with an approach in seeing gastronomy as an art form: “As Yeditepe, we educate chefs who are equipped with both academic and vocational knowledge, as well as individuals who can think like artists.”

Design process is a crucial part of culinary skills, and with the intention of implanting creative thinking to the future chefs, they founded the Gastroartology® concentration program within the Department of Gastronomy and Culinary Arts. That is how the term came to life, and naturally, the department owns the rights to the name.

Then there is the science angle. The head of the department, Professor Özilgen is totally science-oriented, having written an internationally acclaimed book on science and food. Her book, titled “Cooking as a Chemical Reaction,” is a textbook in several universities worldwide, now even being translated into Chinese. Actually, she is the very first Turkish scholar to have written a culinary science textbook in English and has other books and several papers on food science.

Being a food engineer, her motive is to give the students basic scientific knowledge on what exactly happens when they cook, also delving into food hygiene and sanitation and food safety, covering international food laws and regulations, and finally covering new trends like molecular gastronomy.

She says, “The kitchen is the laboratory of the science, and chefs are the most important culinary scientists.” She is also trying to transform Turkish food into science, or in other words, decode the elements and techniques of Turkish cuisine in scientific terms. Her background in food engineering gives a backbone and a firm structural frame to the students, a base that they can further elaborate their skills in culinary arts. Combined with the artistic creative thinking the students get from the fine arts department, Yeditepe University has formed a unique approach, bringing art and science together under their gastronomy department.

Now, there is a new project ahead: Promoting the cultural and artistic works of its partners globally, Google Arts & Culture signed a collaboration agreement with Yeditepe University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Gastronomy and Culinary Arts. The university has taken on the task to create a platform on Turkish cuisine and its academic curriculum. Özilgen sees this as a national duty.

Commenting on the subject, she stated that the priority of the program is to introduce Turkish culinary culture to the world with all its dimensions, and said “It is an honor for us that our institution [is] approached to carry out this national duty. Yeditepe University is the only Turkish university that is a project partner in this field.”

On the platform, there will be stories, exhibitions and photos from projects and courses conducted within the scope of an academic program where efforts are collated under three categories, namely science, art and culture. There will also be photographs taken with a focus on Turkish culinary culture with a special emphasis on Istanbul.

This special platform on Turkish gastronomy, provided by Google Arts and Culture, is expected to include other components and contributors to be completed within a year, but Yeditepe University succeeded to be the first to initiate this very important task, very rightly described by them as a national duty!