Chef and cookbook author John Gregory Smith recently released his new book, “Turkish Delights”; a celebration of the best of the country’s cuisine, easily re-created for your dining table. We chatted with John about his passion for Turkey and what inspired him to write his new book.
Fell in love with Istanbul
“I first went to Turkey 10 years ago with my dad and I fell in love with Istanbul and the food. This started a mild obsession with the country and the food. Fast-forward, and I fell in love with a Turk, who showed me more of this stunning country and the food. My partner’s family is from Samsun, the home of the pide, and it’s just such a special place. We have had many great adventures together and have eaten way too much! I’m hooked on Turkey, really. The more times I visited for work and the more time we spent visiting friends and family, the more I just knew I wanted to write a book on regional Turkish food. I respect the cuisine so much and am thrilled to be sharing it with the world.
Slow food means to me ‘taking your time to make something amazing’. Some of the best dishes are cooked slowly to let them develop character and depth. You can return to a dish and like strange alchemy the flavours have mingled and changed completely. I also love taking breakfast super slow. Turkish breakfast with sujuk, eggs, cheese and fruit is heaven and is best enjoyed at a snail’s pace. I am not a very chilled person myself, in fact I am almost incapable of relaxing unless I have done the cooking and am sat around the table with a drink and all my favourite people.
Yeni Raki would go well with which foods?
Yeni Raki goes well with fish, mezze or kebab. It’s part of Turkish culture, it’s served everywhere and Turks love it. It’s so refreshing and can cut through the richness of creamy foods. I love it over ice with water. It’s also great in cooking and I have a fabulous roasted sea bass with raki recipe in my new book – it’s so delicious!”
John Gregory Smith pops up at supper clubs in restaurants and food markets in London serving Turkish themed feasts. Stay tuned for his next dinners or pick up his book at your near book store or via Amazon online. Read more here about John Gregory Smith.