Rolling up its sleeves to ensure that Turkish cuisine gains a worldwide recognition such as the Italian, French, or Chinese cuisines, Culinary Arts Academy (MSA) initiated the project of ‘Turkish Cuisine to the World Movement’ three years ago. Within the scope of this project, a training program relating to the Turkish cuisine has been prepared. Now, Turkish cuisine will be included in the syllabuses of world-famous culinary schools such as Johnson&Wales University in the US, Alma La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana in Italy, Le Notre in France, VTC in Hong-Kong, Mausi Sebess in Argentina, International Culinary Center in New York, and George Brown College in Canada.

According to Tourism, Restaurant Investors and Operators Association (TURYID) data, Turkish catering industry achieved a turnover of nearly 10 billion dollars in 2012. This figure was achieved by almost 40 thousand business firms. Stating that MSA, which was found in 2004, is the first vocational training institution and professional culinary school that determined the trained personnel requirement in this field, Mr. Mehmet Aksel, the founder of MSA strongly emphasizes that they have changed kitchen profile in Turkey thanks to more than 3 thousand and 600 trained chef nominees that are active in this sector after having received training at MSA. Distinguishing as the only professional culinary school n the world that is accredited by City&Guilds and awarded by WACS, the trainees of MSA do not only develop in terms of knowledge – experience during their training, but also they are prepared for the entire processes that they will face upon starting to work in the industry. Trainees serve their 4-month internship at the kitchens of leading local and global hotels and restaurants; thus, they are prepared for the professional life already during their training. The network of MSA contains many international prestigious schools such as Johnson&Wales, the biggest culinary university of the US, and ALMA La Scuola International di Cucina Italiana, the most significant school in Italy. They share knowledge and experience through trainer exchange with these schools and provide their students with international experience and training opportunity on certain ‘specialization’ subjects through student exchange programs. In addition to ‘Professional Culinary,’ ‘Professional Pastry and Bakery’ training, which cover a total training period of 8 months that consist of 4 months at the school and 4 months internship at the kitchens of the industry’s leading establishments, MSA offers ‘Professional Catering Management,’ ‘Expert Restaurant Management,’ ‘Service Standards Training,’ ‘Professional Bartending and Mixology’ trainings. Stating that they develop innovative projects to introduce the Turkish cuisine to the world, Mr. Aksel gave us an interview about their project of ‘Turkish Cuisine to the World Movement’ that was started 3 years ago that will be included in the syllabuses of the world’s most successful culinary schools.

In autumn, the Turkish cuisine training, which is prepared by MSA after a 3-year effort, will be offered at the most successful culinary schools of the US such as Johnson&Wales and in many different countries. How did you initiate the project of ‘Turkish Cuisine to the World Movement?’
The ‘Turkish Cuisine to the World Movement’ that we started as MSA aims at moving Turkish cuisine to an international academic platform. We have been making efforts on this for a long time. The researches on the trainings for Turkish cuisine took 3 years. MSA’s trainer chefs and consultants traveled to the different regions of Turkey and collected numerous recipes and products on the basis of different gastronomic areas. The data so obtained was diligently categorized and recorded and the academic studies have been started. In order to introduce the Turkish cuisine to training syllabuses, we cooperated with the concerned persons and opinion leaders in this field. Following the creation of the basic training program, we broke new ground in terms of accreditation. Under the studies that we conducted with the specialized accreditation organization Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA), we had the content transfer and assessment of training accredited internationally, structured a frame for the training program, and then we have implemented the same.

How many members has the team of this project? What worldwide culinary schools you are targeting to generalize this training?
The nominees, who successfully complete the Turkish Cuisine training that is only available to the provisional culinary school students and alumni and that consists of a 2-week dense program with theoretical knowledge and cuisine practice, will obtain an internationally recognized Turkish Cuisine Training diploma. In this training, we have not only aimed at providing the future chef nominees with knowledge on the titles such as ‘basic cooking techniques of Turkish cuisine,’ ‘gastronomic local products and materials,’ ‘basic recipes of the classical Turkish cuisine,’ ‘regional characteristic features of Anatolian local folkloric cuisine,’ and ‘Hero dishes,’ but also at ensuring the penetration of Turkish cuisine into professional kitchens with a correct definition and we have created the content accordingly. Turkish cuisine was first included in the syllabus of Johnson&Wales University in the US. Other schools that we discussed and received positive opinion about inclusion in the syllabus are Alma La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana in Italy, Le Notre in France, VTC in Hong-Kong, Mausi Sebess in Argentina, International Culinary Center (French Culinary Institute) in New-York, and George Brown College in Canada…

Can you give information about the content of trainings?
Training will be conducted at the professional kitchens of MSA. The 88-hour training is made up two modules: ‘Classical Turkish Cuisine’ and ‘Regional Anatolian Cuisines.’ The Turkish cuisine training that has been created as a result of the long field studies and R&D activities of MSA trainer chefs contains theoretical and practical courses and also cultural workshops, demos, and visits. In the first module, which covers the Turkish culinary culture, local products, and traditional cooking techniques, the classical dishes of our cuisine are created and rendered to the accompaniment of trainer chefs. In the Regional Anatolian Cuisines module, the national cuisine is grouped into gastronomic regions, the climatic and geographic factors that have an impact on each region’s cuisine are discussed, the products are defined, and the ‘hero dishes’ of every region are prepared. At the end of the training, the trainees that successfully complete the training are entitled to obtain a ‘Turkish Cuisine Diploma.’

On what subjects you are focused in 2012? What are your targets in 2013?
Our most recent project is to include the Turkish cuisine training with an international certificate in the syllabuses of the leading international culinary schools. We are focused on this subject in 2012.

What achievement you are expecting to make in the long-run with the Turkish cuisine movement?
Our long-term target is to make sure the international recognition of Turkish cuisine just like Italian, French, and Chinese cuisines. We believe that restaurants will start serving these tastes and that our kitchen will be known by everyone over time as the number of chefs receiving this training increases all over the world.

Do your workshops – special courses have trainees from the business world?
Unfortunately we cannot share the names. Persons from all industries show interest in our amateur groups. Especially, we attract great attention of the professional group as they are 2 to 3 hour activities attended after work as a part of their hobbies. We observe that our professional training programs generally attract the persons that served in banking and human resources sectors, but willing to change their careers in the culinary or pastry-bakery field. As the professional training programs involve an age limit within the framework of our school’s rules and the industry’s requirements, participation from the business world is limited.

Studies continue on two different dictionaries
Mr. Mehmet Aksel, founder of MSA, gives the following information on book studies: “Besides the Turkish Cuisine Training that has been internationally accredited within the framework of Turkish Cuisine to the World Movement, we have also provided the culinary culture with a very comprehensive Turkish Cuisine Dictionary. Nergis Ulu, a restaurateur of artworks and old books, researched in different libraries of Turkey under the coordination of MSA and compiled 25 thousand words that are included in the written culinary resources during the last 75 years. Nilhan Aras, an experienced gastronomic publications editor specialized in local tastes, edited this information for two years. Esen Karol, a leading Turkish book designer, worked for more than a year to design a useful dictionary. This long-running and diligent process that was coordinated by MSA took 12 years. Besides, we are planning to complete Turkish Culinary Dialects Dictionary that is currently in the preparatory stage.”