Istanbul with Elif Yalin

News - Istanbul with Elif Yalin

Chef and entrepreneur Elif Yalın has been cooking since she can remember. During her university years, she baked two apple pies a day - her father’s favourite. Her first venture, Istanbul’s go-to brunch location, Mangerie, launched in 2003, but it was Delicatessen, Turkey’s first deli concept for foodie urbanites, that made Elif Yalın a brand name in that country.

 “Cooking skills are not enough to have a claim to the chef title,” Elif explains. “It is the union of a creative vision, leadership skills and experimental cooking artistry that builds the basis of good cooking.”

Following the recent launch of YOO2 Taksim Square, we asked Elif to show us the delights of Istanbul through her own eyes…

Describe your typical day

I wake up with the day’s first coffee at Mangerie at 9am. Kitchen control, meetings, and reading emails take about three hours of my morning. After lunch, I head to Delicatessen in Nişantaşı or Pera depending on the day. I repeat the same routines, always looking for new ways to improve the weekly and seasonal menu creation. inspirational historical landmark?

For me all the works of  Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan are spectacles. He has left his signature all around Istanbul. If I have to choose one particular one, it would be the Süleymaniye mosque.

The shop you can’t get enough of?

Karaköy Junk and Dank! in Istinye. I lose myself amongst second hand, vintage stores with no names looking for small plates and vintage silver cutlery. I also love the Grand Bazaar, of course.

Best hamam?

Dating back to the 1580s, Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı in Karaköy, built by Mimar Sinan. Surely the ultimate in relaxing rejuvenation.

Where should we eat?

Don’t be afraid to try the street food. My favourite is rice pilaf with chickpeas. They are sold from pilaf carts every neighbourhood in the city. Best snack for anytime of the day.

The must-haves in a Turkish breakfast and the best place to have it?

White cheese, kaşar peyniri, black and green olives, butter, honey, jam, an omlette or boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. And the best place to have it…do I have to be objective? Mangerie, of course! Actually the best Turkish breakfast is homemade, so I recommend you befriend an Istanbulite and get yourself invited to a Sunday family breakfast.

For a midday break, where should we enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee?

Ceneviz Kahvesi in Karaköy.

Somewhere to dine in style?

Taksim’s Changa. Fusion cuisine in a beautiful old Art Nouveau townhouse. Nişantaşı and Münferit in Beyoğlu are also good choices.

Somewhere for a sun-downer?

I’d choose a hotel bar with an enchanting view of the Bosphorus. It’s the only place in you can get enough greenery. I usually enjoy this view with a cold beer in hand and fried munchies to nibble on.

What is your getaway island on the Istanbul coast?

Kınalıada, also known as “Henna Island” is a forty minute ferry away from Kabataş.

What is the best mode of transport for this city?

Unfortunately, you need to have a car in Istanbul. Cabs are the fastest and easiest way to get around.

Raki and mezes? 

I’d take you to Ece or Asmalı Cavit and we’d eat a perfect Turkish feta, mini dolmades, fired liver, meatballs, fried fresh potato rings, eggplant purée, spicy tomato paste, toasted country bread and sautéed seasonal vegetables.

Your definition of a good night?

For me it’s a laid back night with easy and up people.

Three things to do in Istanbul?

Eat good, fresh and simple food, enjoy the longest nightlife of Europe and soak in Mimar Sinan’s work.

And what should we  bring back?

Turkish delight – especially the pistachio ones!




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