The Turkish Way

The Roca brothers shoot the second part of the movie Cooking up a Tribute: "The Turkish Way" in Turkey

The Luxonomist. 03/06/2015
Josep Roca and Turkish sommelier Sabiha Apaydin 2
Josep Roca and Turkish sommelier Sabiha Apaydin film a scene for «The Turkish Way» in the port of the island of Bozcaada, Turkey.

Joan Roca, head chef at El Celler de Can Roca, and Josep Roca, sommelier and maitre d’ at the restaurant, have returned from Turkey where they spent almost two weeks preparing the global gastronomic tour with BBVA that will take them to Turkey in late August, after going through Argentina and the United States. Moreover, as part of their visit they have begun filming the second part of Cooking up a Tribute: «The Turkish Way». In the coming weeks, the Roca brothers will decide on the local ingredients that will feature in the dishes of the Turkish menu to be served in Istanbul, some creations that they are already working on in their restaurant in Girona and their own Roca-Lab.

The documentary, directed by Luis González and produced by BBVA Contenidos, tells the story of the journey of the three Roca brothers, who are the owners of El Celler de Can Roca, through Turkish culture and food. `The Turkish Way´ is divided into three parts: one for each of the brothers. In the first, Joan Roca, head chef at the restaurant voted best in the world in 2013, travels from Istanbul to Smyrna and Tire to learn about Turkish kebabs, vegetables and spices.

The second part features his brother Josep, who visits the island of Bozcaada to discover local grape varieties and wines. And in the third and final part, Jordi Roca, voted best pastry chef in the world in 2014, will enjoy the Sugar Feast after Ramadan and will travel to the Syrian border region to explore the birthplace of desserts such as baklava.

Josep Roca over the Bosphorous strait in Istanbul, Turkey
Josep Roca enjoys the view of the Suleyman the Magnificent mosque from the Galata bridge over the Bosphorous strait in Istanbul, Turkey.

Joan Roca was fascinated by Turkey: “I’m excited about what I’m learning, the personality of its people, their peculiarities and ancient traditions. I’m taking home a great deal of inspiration and a wide variety of products to work with. There’s a great potential here and generosity among all is key. A lot of respect is needed in doing justice to a culture with so many centuries of history, blending such different cultures and climates. Humility in this approach will be a feature of our dishes».

Joan Roca passed the baton on this journey of getting close to Turkey to his brother Josep (the Roca brothers never leave the restaurant in Girona or their customers without attending to them personally). “Making a film about Turkey is a unique experience,” says Josep Roca, who, after 30 years as a sommelier, got the opportunity for the first time to sample grape varieties that were unknown to him such as okuzgozu, kalecik karazi and kolorko.

Joan Roca Turkish coffee
Joan Roca enjoys a traditional Turkish coffee on the outdoor terrace of the Mandabatmaz café (The bull that never gives up), together with the chef Sina Sucuka in Istanbul, Turkey.

Centuries of history and religious influences mix with ingredients such as eggplant, lamb and yoghurt as the film summarizes the Roca brothers’ experiences and interpretation of Turkish cuisine. Along with Turkish winemakers and anthropologists, the sommelier of the world’s best restaurant in 2013 found out on the ground about the evolution of Turkish wines over recent years, during which time they have greatly improved in quality and international distribution.

Over five weeks, Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, accompanied by around 40 chefs and waiters from their Girona-based team, will serve more than 2,500 BBVA customers and guests in Buenos Aires, Miami, Birmingham, Houston and Istanbul. They will create a special and a different menu in each country that pays tribute to the local culture and cuisine.

The three Roca brothers have decided to spend the first half of the year traveling thousands of kilometers to learn first-hand about the main features of Turkish, U.S. and Argentine cuisine, and acquire new knowledge that will allow them to create unique dishes drawn from their innovative insight into the food of the three countries.

Mehmet Gurs Joan Roca
Mehmet Gurs (center) cooks a farewell dinner for Joan Roca in Istanbul alongside the Catalan chef (right) and a member of his team in the facilities of the Mikla Lab gastronomic research center in the Turkish capital.

This second edition of the tour will serve a total of 100,000 dishes in 6 countries and travel 120,000 km between 2014 and 2015, which is the equivalent of going around the world 3 times. What’s more, this year they will take the leap from the Americas to Europe and Asia, thanks to the inclusion of Turkey.

The tour has become the perfect setting to produce the documentary film ‘Cooking up a Tribute’, which premiered at the Berlin film festival and is currently being screened at the main film festivals around the world.

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