ANTALYA — One of the Antalya’s Fest’s most hungrily-embraced new elements is the launch of its Culinary Cinema section, this year featuring the road trip-foodie love story “The Turkish Way.” The docu, focusing on the revival of traditional Anatolian cuisine and winemaking, mixed with modernist twists from nouvelle chefs, has toured fests from Palm Springs all the way home to the heartland of Turkey.
The screening here, however, is but a preview to the menu viewers soon find themselves facing at Antalya’s storied 7 Mehmet restaurant.
Typically, after following the internationally renowned restaurateurs the Roca brothers (Joan, Josep and Jordi), in their quest to unearth the authentic flavors of old Turkey, a screening hall audience of about 100 sits down at communal tables to take up the mission themselves.
The post-cinema feast starts with newly-conceived versions of centuries-old staples such as shrimp in leafy greens sauce and moves on to tangy meat roast, finishing with sweets as only the Turkic tribes could have concocted them.
As Antalya Fest Artistic Director Mike Downey said while introducing the first Culinary Cinema event, the project is, like the fest itself, aimed at celebrating the best in Turkish creativity. Joking that he was initially concerned he’d be assigned “the washing up” when planning the event with the rest of the fest team, Downey said the venue was a historic dining shrine appropriate to the film-and-dinner experience.
“The Turkish Way” builds on the 2015 culinary quest film “Cooking Up a Tribute,” directed by Luis González and Andrea Gómez and produced by BBVA Contenidos. A tour through New World cuisines with 40 members of the brothers’ restaurant’s staff, it records them cooking tasting menus in Houston, Dallas, Mexico, Monterrey, Bogota and Lima that illustrate their expertise and philosophy: a stoutly-defended mix of tradition and innovation, avant-garde science and countryside products.
In the latest edition, the trio behind the three Michellin star Catalan restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, moves on through a spectrum of Turkish culinary cultures in Turkey, indulging in both the savory and the sweet specialties at the heart of one of the world’s major crossroads.
As the brothers encounter Turkish meastros Mehmet Gürs, a celebrity chef, TV personality and restaurateur, along with Istanbul chef Maksut Aşkar and Sabiha Apaydin, wine director at Istanbul’s award-winning Mikla, they exchange inspiration, a wealth of knowledge and not a little philosophy.
“Tradition is a bad umbrella,” observes one fanatic wine cellar proprietor in the film, pointing out that it protects you – but also keeps you from growing.
With lush cinematography by Jaime Rebato and a stirring string soundtrack by Sophie Abraham-Ebbinge, “The Turkish Way” is indeed an indulgence for the senses.