Ideas & Inspirations

Ideas & Inspirations


Gastromasa celebrates its fifth year in Istanbul, a leading gastronomy event that brings together world-renowned chefs from around the globe. Its founder and creator, Gökmen Sözen, seems to have the mission of transporting all the celebrated chefs of the world to Turkey. I’ve known Sözen for years now, from the early years of his career as a food photographer. He worked for years for a zillion of brands and companies in the gastronomy field as a photographer and photography editor, eventually launching his own magazine, FoodinLife, in 2007, which was followed by Patisserie by FoodinLife and FoodinLife World. While traveling in and out of Turkey, Sözen developed the idea of bringing world chefs to Turkey to create a bridge between countries and chefs. He has done so, especially having chefs of Spain presenting at Gastromasa and at the same time exploring local tastes and flavors.


This year, as always, Spain, and especially the Basque country, dominates the event. Big names like Albert Adrià, Elena Arzak and Andoni Luis Aduriz will be presenting once again. They were here in Istanbul back in 2016. Joxe Mari Aizega of the Basque Culinary Center will also be back again. Other names from Spain include Paulo Airaudo of Amelia in San Sebastian, Albert Raurich of Dos Palillos in Barcelona, Aitor Arregi of Restaurante Elkano in Getaria and Paco Roncero of Paco Roncero Restaurant in Madrid. Then, there is the Latin connection, German Martitegui of Restaurant Tegui comes from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Virgilio Martinez & Pia Leon of Central Restaurant will also be paying a second visit, and Gaston Acurio of Atrid y Gaston will join the event for the first time. Both are traveling all the way from Lima, Peru. Of course, it is not all Latin territory. Gastromasa is trying to expand its horizons to the northern tip of the hemisphere, reaching out to Nordic chefs like Soren Selin of AOC Restaurant, Copenhagen, and Russian stars Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy of Twins Garden in Moscow.

This year, the theme is “Inspiration,” and I believe traveling is one of the leading agents that trigger inspiration. Most of the chefs will be taking a pre-tour to Tarsus, Adana and Antep, hopefully picking out ideas and inspirations from their visit. I can easily forecast which ingredients will inspire them, or at least certain chefs. Among all, there are two patisserie chefs that I’d really like to see their outcome from this tour, Janice Wong from Singapore and the master chocolatier Pierre Marcolini from Brussels. They will definitely be inspired by the exquisite pistachio of Antep and fascinated by the baklava workshop. At one point, they have to taste the best pomegranate extract in the world created by Arzu and Mehmet Girgin, probably when they’ll be back in Istanbul when the new season’s crop will be on the shelves.

Few lucky ones among the visiting chefs and journalists will be treated to a lunch in Tarsus, hometown of St. Paul, a town lesser known in the gastronomic triangle of Adana, Antioch and Antep. Tarsus has some unique tastes, but of all the humus and kebabs, its tahini helva is outstanding, mostly because of the quality of its tahini. Another sweet delight is cezerye, a carrot-based confection. Yasmina Lokmanoğlu, a local home cook and writer, founder of Tarsus Slow Food, will oversee the lunch, and she has another surprise for the guests. The local cookie, “kerebiç,” topped with a marshmallow-like foam will adorn the dessert table. The foam, which is like an uncooked meringue, will be a revelation for most. Made from gypsophila root, it is completely vegan, without using a single egg. Hopefully, my prediction will prevail and at least a few chefs will travel back, packed with ideas and inspirations.

Note: Gastromasa will be held at Istanbul Haliç Congress Center on Nov. 30. Don’t forget to reserve your place for the event on Biletix.