As a young chef I spent time working in Austria and some of my colleagues at the restaurant were Turkish. They inspired me to go and visit Istanbul and it was everything that I’d imagined: an exotic blend of the ancient Orient and modern-day Europe, the old and new; where you could really feel history coming alive all around you in the smoky teahouses, the palaces and mosques, the street markets and the Grand Bazaar.
The memories of that trip stayed with me and then, in 2007, I was lucky enough to travel all around Turkey with Lucy, my writing partner, to research our book, Turquoise. I discovered a cuisine far more complex, varied and layered than many people realise. I loved the way it resonated with my own Lebanese background and couldn’t believe the variety and quality of produce.