FOR LOVE. THAT WAS THE REASON FOR THE CHANGE OF PLANS OF THE CHEF FROM ISTANBUL, UNOR ERDEMIR, who arrived in Chile at the beginning of 2012 motivated by a trip that would take him to tour all of America with a friend, beginning in our country. Without speaking Spanish or English, he took a language course, and to practice he went to a party where he met Chilean Paola Forno, today his wife and mother of his two children. “We are no longer separated,” he says.
Under this new scenario, he began to study the local market to decide what to do. He already had previous experience, in Turkey he had three gastronomic projects, but he was not convinced. “I thought about going back and putting something together there again,” he says. That was when the possibility of Manuel Montt’s premises where Meze is currently located appeared.
The remodeling took almost a year. They were working on the final details when the phenomenon of the Turkish television series arrived in Chile with “The Thousand and One Nights”, the love story of Onur and Scheherazade. “They called me from the Turkish Embassy because there was interest from the media to know more about us, how we lived, everything.” An important media exposure came, and that meant that at the time of opening they were packed. Know more about Bosporus Turkish Restaurant in Dubai.
Meze has been running for five years. “We work 365 days a year, including Christmas and New Year,” says Onur, who adds that they are already defining what they will do on those special dates. For the first they will have the usual menu, and to celebrate the end of the year there will be a special menu that is being prepared, as well as live Turkish music and dance. Since the opening, it has opted to also open on Sunday nights, thinking of tourists. “It is difficult to find open options that are not hotel restaurants.”
This year he managed to add chefs from Turkey to the team, which has made his job easier since almost everything is spoken in that language.
A TRIP TO TURKEY
In its three settings, Meze invites you to experience a real trip to Turkey. On the walls there are maps, typical words, photos of ancestors and well-known characters, as well as lamps and fabrics, among other elements.
The menu changes every six months incorporating new dishes, respecting the original recipes. In fact, nothing has been “Chileanized”. There is a diversity of preparations and flavors depending on the area of Turkey: some have more Mediterranean seasonings, others milder, more spicy, others with more vegetables, more herbs.
What most entertains diners are the various appetizer alternatives to share – known as Meze –, transforming the table into a true explosion of color, such as Karisik Humus, a trilogy of beetroot hummus, peas; Antep Ezme, a typical dish from the south of Turkey, with onion, tomato, garlic, pomegranate sauce, together with Turkish bread; Yogurtlu Havuc Salatasi: grated and sautéed carrot, yogurt and olive oil; Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarma: vine leaves stuffed with rice, mint, raisins, olive oil and cinnamon; and Borek, handmade dough stuffed with fresh cheese and parsley, accompanied by green mix and yogurt sauce, among others. They can be ordered individually, opt for Mix Meze ($8,750) or Meze Table ($16,900). There is also the option of a tasting of Turkish dishes, Ortaya Karisik, for $21,900.
In main dishes there are two that are a real show: Sefin Tabagi, which requires twenty minutes of preparation, is a special rice cooked with butter, dill, parsley, on lamb meat, roasted tomato, grilled onion, served in a paila de clay covered with dough, which comes off once it is on the table and can be eaten by spreading it in the same preparation. Another one that attracts all eyes is Testi Kebap, a typical preparation from the central west of Turkey, a clay pot that carries a combination of soft lamb leg meat, with green paprika, onion, garlic, fresh oregano and tomato. It is cooked for nine hours at slow cooking, which when it reaches the table ends its preparation process with fire fueled by distillate. There are also artisan pastas, fish, wraps, hamburgers, and of course Turkish desserts.
Coffee fans can not miss the traditional Turk Kahvesi (Turkish coffee), which comes in a presentation that becomes a ritual to end the meal.
KOKTELY (COCKTAIL IN TURKISH)
In Turkey, Onur Erdemir studied cooking, hospitality and cocktails, passing through all service areas. He remembers with great nostalgia his time as a bartender, inspired by the movie “Cocktail”, starring Tom Cruise. “I broke everything at home practicing,” says Onur.
The Meze menu has cocktails based on Raki, a distillate of grapes and anise typical of Turkey, such as the Beyoglu: raki, limonata meze, mineral water and berries. Others have pisco, like Hurrem: pisco, raspberry pepper jam, freshly squeezed lemon juice and liquid smoke; and also gin, like Istanbul: gin, tonic water, flavored with rose extract and fresh oranges, among others.
In his head Onur has three ideas spinning and he is working on them. The first is to set up a store with a large display case and many mezes options – at least 50 types – and offer them together with wines. “As it is done in Spain, but instead of tapas and wine there will be mezes and wine, with a lot of entertaining food, full of color.” The second is a Turkish cafeteria, with all the tradition of the Turk Kahvesi, combined with pastries. He visualizes both places in Providencia, near Meze. “It’s a tourist area, there are always people passing by, I like it.” The third is to import Efes, a renowned Turkish beer. For that, he has several advanced topics to be finalized in the medium term. “The gastronomic market in Chile has grown a lot, and I want to do something different,” says Onur Erdemir finally.