Home / FF News / 2016 – Trade Fair & Istanbul Culinary Competition


Sirha VIPSirha Istanbul 2016- (Istanbul Congress Centre)

After the excitement of last year’s Istanbul Culinary Competition at Sirha and the judging of two major culinary competitions in the world (Bocuse d’Or & Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie) it was with great anticipation that I stepped up and entered the Istanbul Congress Centre on Friday 25th November for the Sirha Istanbul 2016. Here’s Foodie Frolics 2016 wrap-up.


Background of SIRHA:

SIRHA Lyon is the world’s largest trade fair for food, restaurant and hotel professionals, observing trends in catering, hospitality and food and beverage services industries.

The Salon International de la Restauration, de l’ Hôtellerie et de l’Alimentation was renamed Sirhafrom the Salon des Métiers de Bouche (Culinary Sector Exhibition and Trade Fair) presented in 1983 in Lyon, France. This “exhibition organized by professionals for professionals” elected French Chef Paul Bocuse as the Honorary President and from here he conceived the idea of a culinary competition to take place during the Trade Fair in front of a live audience. Voila the Bocuse d’Or began and is one of the world’s most prestigious cooking competitions.

Sirha Istanbul:

Sirha Istanbul

This year was the fourth year Sirha returned to Istanbul. Situated at the Istanbul Congress Center in Harbiye, the Trade Exhibition runs for three days. It consists of culinary competitions, food and product stands, workshops and conferences with guest speakers and discussion panels about the most popular global trends.


Culinary Competitions:
Paul BocuseDay 1 & 2: Bocuse d’Or- Pre-Selection Round

The finale of this event takes place over two days near the end of January in Lyon, France at the SIRHA International Hotel. This year in Istanbul, eight teams vied for the opportunity to move forward and represent Turkey in the next round of the Bocuse d’Or. One winner was to be decided from the eight teams but there was a surprise to come at the official award ceremony.


Gabriel Paillasson2015: Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie

This is an international pastry competition that takes place in Lyon, France every two years. Co-founder of the Sirha and the Bocuse d’Or, Gabriel Paillasson a French pastry chef, decided to propose a similar event in the field of pastry (1989.) He appeared as the chief judge at the 2015 Turkey selection. The finalist’s Feray Aydoğdu and Levent Aygun represented Turkey at the European competition, just one step away from the International final in Lyon, France.

Here’s a reminder of what happened last year and the type of surprises we can expect in 2017:

2015-Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie:

6 JudgesThree Turkish candidates, were assessed on their presentation, technique and taste of their culinary sweet delights by six judges including, Honorary President Competition founder Gabriel Paillasson, Aylın Yazıcıoğlu Contest President and owner of Nicole Restaurant Istanbul and four other top Turkish Chefs. Three candidates fought for the right to represent Turkey at the Continental Selection-the European Cup in Geneva, Switzerland in January 2016. They competed with 7 other teams for a place in the finale in Lyon in January 2017. Two competed for the Chocolate prize and just one for the Sugar prize.

2nd Place

2nd Place: Nazlı Ögücü Nazenin Istanbul Chocolate

Sugar Winner

Sugar Winner: Levent Aygün Four Seasons Bosphorus Hotel

1st Prize

Chocolate Winner: Feray Aydoğdu Four Seasons Hotel Aqua Restaurant











The Chocolate Winner
Chocolate prize:1st Tasting plate
  • Feray Aydoğdu (The Four Seasons Hotel Aqua Restaurant, Istanbul) created a Tim Burton inspired chocolate sculpture. Her tasting plate looked delicious and was elegantly presented.




Sugar sculptureSugar prize:Tasting plate
  • Levent Aygun (The Four Seasons Bosphorus Hotel, Istanbul) created a beautiful blue and white sugar sculpture. When cut, his tasting plate had layers of fruit and mousse.



2016 Trade Fair Impressions: Riedel Wine Glasses

Across 3 days there is a trade exhibition of food products; food preparation & presentation equipment (knives, cutlery, serving dishes, wine glasses etc.); kitchen equipment for the professional restaurant or hotel kitchen (steamers, grills, sous vide machines etc.); and a variety of workshops, cooking demonstrations and seminars with guest speakers.

Salted Sea SaltThis year the appearance of more organic produce and healthier food options were evident at the Trade Fair. From quinoa and grain brands ‘Yayla’ & products from ‘Peru’, to ‘Salted’ sea salt products from Izmir, these products show a positive change in healthy food options here in Turkey. Likewise, it was great to see the new 38°30° Çiftliği Cheese company in Afyon employing an Italian cheese maker to create more robust Turkish cheese a welcome addition for stronger cheese lovers. And to top it off, Pinar has released sour cream in Turkey! Although it did seem like the number of exhibitors was significantly less this year than 2015, no surprise considering the current environment in Turkey.

Omnivore-Oleg Kusov

Omnivore Presentations:

Alancha Dessert

Presentations on the Omnivore stage ranged from Erman Girgin of Bröd Nişantaşı discussing his Sourdough bread, to Deniz Temel of Alancha giving a thorough presentation on Anatolian cuisine. Deniz’ display of desserts on a map of Turkey was an impressive finale to Friday’s Omnivore Istanbul World Tour. It was also great to see the inclusion of an international chef Oleg Kusov demonstrating Russian food from his Café Delicatessen in Moscow.

The JudgesBocuse d’Or- Judges:

This year Chef Rudolf Van Nunen, the President of the competition and President of the Bocuse d’Or Academy and Bocuse d’Or Turkey headed the judging panel, Luis Alberto Arévalo Navarro of Madrid the Honorary President joining him. The competition involved eight teams competing over two days, one team to be selected to go on to represent Turkey in the next round.

Competition Rules:

Lamb DishThe competition comprises of two dishes, the first a fish dish and then a meat dish. The fish and meat are decided well before competition starts but the fruit and vegetable garnishes are chosen on the eve of the contest. The contestants’ recipes should reflect not only their personality and creativity but also the traditions of their country. This year the fish selected was Dover Sole (3 per contestant) and the meat, lamb shoulder (2 per contestant.)

                          The Competition begins:

If you haven’t experienced a Bocuse d’Or competition before, the-countdownlet me paint a better picture of what happens…. Imagine four teams of chefs set up in four open kitchens with a grand stand of seating opposite for spectators and fans to sit and observe their every move in the kitchen. Meanwhile there is a digital clock on each bench counting down to the last second of the total time given for the two cooking challenges. Each chef has an assistant (Commis) and one other kitchen hand to help. Each team has a coach who is on hand to offer support.

                                 The Countdown:

When I arrived the countdown on the clocks was at 3 hours so the chefs were working meticulously to produce their dishes for the judges. I watched four teams compete. In the actual finale in Lyon, the candidates have 5hrs 35 minutes to serve a fish dish and a meat dish to a jury of 12 judges. For the TurkeyOfficial Photo Plate pre-selection, there were 10 judges in total plus a coach for each team and a kitchen jury who assess their hygiene, waste and teamwork in the kitchen. An additional plate must also be prepared so it can be officially photographed.

All the teams did their best to put up impressive plates of food, which also had to be consistent from one plate to the next. They all seemed to struggle to get their dishes on the plates in time (Chef Rudolf was looking at the clock) but when they plated up the presentation was excellent. With a front row seat it was possible to watch the reactions of each of the panel of judges and see that a few errors had been made. But all in all their seemed to be but under the guidance of Chef Rudolf I’m sure further improvements will occur in the future.

The Verdict:

As we awaited the announcement of the winners, Chef Rudolf came forward to the microphone with a new development. It was decided since the competition had been very strong between the Turkish teams that four teams would in fact go onto the next round of selections. Chef Rudolf was very pleased about the development of these Turkish competitors in this Istanbul Culinary Competition pre-selection round.

Istanbul Culinary Competitions- WinnersThe Istanbul Culinary Competition Winners:

Mutlu Şevret Yilmaz

Ögün Kara

Özgür Taylan

Özhan Akarsu

Mutlu Şevret Yilmaz has been the most consistent performer. He has appeared for the past 3 years (in the Battle of 2014 against Belgium & Estonia), then as the 2015 winner representing Turkey at Budapest 2016. Now he is one of the pre-selection winners this year.

In conclusion, it just shows that Turkey is lifting its game with the culinary arts and is on the right track to future success in any Istanbul Culinary Competition or other global culinary competitions.


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