We Snuck Into The Kitchen…

WE’RE ON A PLANE. WHAT’S MORE WE’RE IN THE VERY SECTION YOU’RE ALL DYING TO KNOW ABOUT, THE KITCHEN… BEFORE US IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WORLD, TINY AND DELICIOUS-SMELLING, WHERE THE MOUNTAINS ARE MADE OF KNIVES AND FORKS AND THE SEAS ARE THE DETAILS.

Behind the taste of the food you just ate/are now eating/will soon eat lies a whole host of experience culled from all over the world. There is a 5,000-member team and a long-standing family tradition brought by one of them.

That one being Attila Doğudan, President of the Gourmet Entertainment Company (aka DO&CO), who runs the catering services of more than 60 airlines. The idea of having chefs on board was his. And Turkish Airlines boasts the world’s largest fleet of flying chefs. One hundred of them at the moment, with another hundred coming soon.

Life in the kitchen starts from scratch every day. Yesterday’s dishes are yesterday. Today everything starts all over again, afresh. And that is the most important secret of flavor: freshness. Everything is washed, peeled, cut.

There’s nothing frozen. Even the red peppers are roasted fresh one by one. “If you process fresh produce intelligently, it won’t die. But if you start with ingredients that are past their prime, it doesn’t matter what you do. Not a single ingredient is processed,” he says, adding:

“Add a little olive oil, a little salt and pepper, a little seasoning, then cook it without killing it. And you’ll have the best food in the world.” It’s not that simple of course. Good food has to be combined with friendliness and hospitality. All so that the passenger will take pleasure in the experience and leave the aircraft feeling happy.

The customer is the sole arbiter. It’s not enough that he should like it, or be pleasantly surprised. The magic words are these: “I absolutely must eat that again!” Think of it like this: There is a simit vendor. Although you live a little distance away, you go to the market every day, rain or shine, to buy his simits.

For their aroma, their crispness, their sesame seeds, or for the vendor’s friendly conversation. Usually even you yourself don’t know exactly why. It’s the same with the chefs on the airplane. According to Doğudan, 98 out of  every 100 passengers are happy with the food and the service. It’s time now to satisfy those remaining two. Or are you one of them? What can we do to please you?

Serving Turkish Airlines, Turkish DO&CO is a joint Turkish Airlines / DO&CO enterprise.

ATTİLA DOĞUDAN CHEF OF CHEFS
Tips from the President of Do & Co.
Why is cheese indispensable?
Nobody knows, but bread and cheese spell freedom. If you don’t feel like eating that particular food at that particular hour on that particular day, your choice is easy: Bread and cheese.

Why use salad dressing?
Just use it. We’ve thought of everything. Every salad has a different dressing. Olive oil and lemon juice, for example, on the classic green salad. Not only does it enhance the flavor, it also aids in the absorption of vitamin A.

What are the fine points of using sauces?
They come in little packets as you know. Don’t forget to shake them a little first to mix the contents. And after you pour them over the food, wait a minute or so for the flavor to penetrate.

AN IMAMBAYILDI STORY
The eggplants are purchased from suppliers in the central produce market. The condition: a quality product at a reasonable price. After passing quality control, the eggplants are washed, cleaned and chopped differently for roasting, şakşuka and imambayıldı.

The eggplants stand now at a fork in the road. They will go either into a cold dish or a hot dish. Then there is another fork: Are they going into the oven, or in a skillet? Ours are filled, browned, cooled, then placed on the plates.

They are two-thirds cooked when they’re put on the plane. Still to come are the final third of cooking time and then the garnish with fresh herbs.The process is definitely not reheating but continuation of the cooking. This is a very important point.