Turkish cuisine famous from America to China

Turkish cuisine famous from America to China

BURSA - Anatolia News Agency
Turkish cuisine famous from America to China

The kebab is such an important food in Turkish cuisine that there are kebab restaurants in almost every neighborhood. AA photo

The best known foods of Turkish cuisine, the kebab, döner and pide (Turkish pizza), continue to draw interest from around the world. Turkish kebabs, with their variety of ingredients, as well as the varied types of pide, top the list of “must-eat foods” for tourists traveling to Turkey.

The growing popularity of Turkish cuisine has caused some restaurant companies to consider opening new branches abroad, after determining the food demands of various places.

According to Atilla Külekçioğlu, chairman of the executive board for a company in 35 locations in Turkey, the kebab is such an important food in Turkish cuisine that there are kebab restaurants in almost every neighborhood. His company aims to have 50 branches by the end of 2012.

World-famous Turkish dishes should be available everywhere, in order to fight against the many foreign, fast food restaurants opening, Külekçioğlu said. “[For good business] you have to show your quality and provide trust. You have show where the meat comes from. We have established a production facility. People trust us,” he said. The number of fast food franchises in Turkey has reached 9,000, according to Külekçioğlu. He said the fast food sector had a $1.5 billion turnover in 2011 and was expected to reach $1.8 billion this year.

Some Turkish companies, like Külekçioğlu’s, have been conducting studies in order to facilitate opening new restaurant locations abroad. “We’re in talks with global firms. We plan to open new branches in the Middle East and North America first. Our studies show there is a lot of interest in kebabs there. We also have business talks for a branch in Moscow. Russia is a very important market. There are restaurants there already, but we want to enter this market as a chain,” he said. “Turkish cuisine leaves many countries behind even with its kebab, pide and meatball. We have more dishes than are found in French and Italian cuisine and we want to show them to the world.”

Turkish kebab restaurant in newspaper headline

Studies have shown Russians love Alinazik kebab (a type of kebab with eggplant puree, yogurt and ground meat) best, followed by pide and more traditional kebab, Külekçioğlu said.

A kebab restaurant made headlines in a Russian newspaper a few weeks ago, Külekçioğlu said. “The owner says in the headline ‘I got the turnover that I targeted for a year in only one month.’ Russians love Turkish food. The story shows us that they need more.”

Generally, pide made with cheese and white meats are consumed in Middle Eastern countries, according to Külekçioğlu. “Kebabs come first in popularity in North America, but pide is consumed a lot as well. When I say kebabs I mean Adana and Urfa kebabs, as well as shish kebabs. Kebabs are well known in Europe. I lived in Germany for a long time and people in that country love kebabs with eggplant and tomato, as well as Adana kebab. Among the types of pide eaten, mushroom pide is preferred. All of Europe consumes döner and China loves it too. China is a very big region where people are interested in different tastes,” Külekçioğlu said.

“There should be a larger number of Turkish food companies abroad,” he said.