• By: Dan Donovan

Michelin Guide Awards 2024 Showcases Turkey’s Gourmet Restaurants in Istanbul, Izmir, and Bodrum

In Türkiye, the real Turkish delight is the incredible food and wine scene. Renowned for its rich history and diverse cultural influences, Türkiye has become a favoured destination for those seeking an exceptional gastronomic and wine experience. The country’s culinary landscape has garnered international acclaim, earning it a prestigious place on the Michelin Star map. Many of the world’s finest dining establishments are found here, from the vibrant street markets of Istanbul to the coastal gems of Izmir and Bodrum. The Michelin Stars not only celebrate the mastery of Turkish chefs but also showcase the country’s commitment to culinary innovation and excellence.

Beyond its gastronomic accolades, Türkiye boasts an exceptional wine culture that complements its diverse cuisine. Wine regions in Cappadocia and Thrace produce a remarkable array of varietals that reflect the unique terroir of each area. These wines, often crafted from indigenous grape varieties, offer a delightful journey for oenophiles exploring Turkieye’s vinous landscape.

The growing presence of Michelin Star establishments in Istanbul, Izmir, and Bodrum has only enhanced the reputation of Türkiye’s wines as the art of food and wine pairing reaches new heights for locals and tourists alike. Whether sipping a glass of crisp Narince at a contemporary restaurant along the Bosphorus in Istanbul or enjoying a bold red from the Aegean coast in Izmir, Türkiye’s food and wine scene promises an unforgettable fusion of flavours and aromas.

ABOVE: Chef Osman Sezener’s OD Urla is a Michelin-starred Urla restaurant nestled in the heart of olive groves that embodies a commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. Sezener is a native of Izmir who apprenticed and trained at the New York French Culinary School, and he is a graduate of  Bilkent University’s Tourism and Hotel Management program. In 2018, he opened  OD Urla, embracing “farm to table” and “zero waste” principles. His food creations are from the Aegean, and his passion lies in merging Turkish ingredients with global flavours. Sezener crafts seasonal recipes with homegrown and locally sourced produce that offers a distinctive Urla experience.

Michelin Guide selections in Izmir, Bodrum, and Istanbul

In the world of gastronomy, few accolades carry as much weight and prestige as the coveted Michelin Stars. The Michelin Guide was first published in France in 1900 by Andre and Edouard Michelin — the founders of the Michelin Tyre Company. It helped tourists visiting France find acceptable lodging, restaurants, and car service stations. The Michelin Star system began in 1926 when the travel guide began to exhibit more of a haute cuisine bent. A century later, culinary professionals and chefs worldwide strive for the prestigious recognition of a Michelin Star. It transcends borders, helps to define and shape the culinary landscape, and can transform cities into global gastronomic destinations.

Michelin Stars are awarded using the data compiled by Michelin inspectors and former restaurant and hospitality professionals who make recommendations based on anonymous visits and team discussions. They evaluate restaurants on five universal criteria: the quality of ingredients, harmony of flavours, mastery of techniques, the personality of the chef, and consistency across the entire menu and over time.

Countries with Michelin-Starred Restaurants

While France remains a culinary powerhouse with abundant Michelin-starred establishments, other notable countries include Japan, Italy, Spain, and the United States, where cities like Paris, Tokyo, and New York boast an impressive array of starred restaurants. In recent years, Türkiye has been climbing the charts, joining the esteemed ranks of countries boasting Michelin-starred restaurants, solidifying its status as a rising star in the international restaurant scene.

ABOVE: Chef Osman Serdaroğlu (pictured with his wife) and his team at Teruar Urla were awarded a Michelin Star for their Mediterranean-Italian-inspired cuisine and use of the area’s local produce. From lamb saltimbocca to fried zucchini with fresh goat cheese and dried yoghurt, the dishes are minimalist yet surprisingly rich in flavour. The wine list is equally impressive, paying tribute to the different terroirs of Türkiye.

Türkiye’s Culinary Triumph

On November 9, 2023, at an awards ceremony in Istanbul, 111 prestigious Michelin Stars were awarded to exceptional restaurants in Istanbul, Izmir, and Bodrum,  Türkiye. Izmir and Bodrum received special attention, with 15 and 19 restaurants, respectively, making their debut in the Michelin Guide. Among these, Izmir gained three One Michelin Star recipients and eight establishments with the coveted Bib Gourmand, while Bodrum was awarded two One Michelin Star restaurants and two Bib Gourmand recipients. Istanbul received  25 new additions, with two One Michelin Star and eight Bib Gourmand awards, bringing the city’s total recommended restaurants to 77.

Izmir’s Culinary Tapestry and Bodrum’s International Flair

Izmir and its surrounding areas, including the enchanting district of Urla on the wine route, boast a diverse range of gastronomic offerings rooted in the Turkish Aegean and Mediterranean culinary traditions. You’ll find immense variety here, from trendy restaurants to traditional eateries. 

Bodrum is a high-end tourism destination that offers a blend of authentic Turkish and international cuisines. Chefs here have a flair for infusing their creations with Asian and Italian flavours.

In Izmir, three restaurants were awarded a One Michelin Star for the first time: OD Urla, led by Chef Osman Sezener; Teruar Urla, under Chef Osman Serdaroğlu’s guidance; and Vino Locale, steered by the talented duo Ozan and Seray Kumbasar. 

At Bodrum, the kitchen is led by Chef Osman Sezener, and Maçakızı is part of the Maçakızı Hotel, run by Chef Aret Sahakyan. Both earned One Michelin Star. 

Istanbul was awarded two new One Michelin Star establishments: Arkestra, headed by Chef Cenk Debensason, and Sankai by Nagaya, guided by Chef Yoshizumi Nagaya.

Michelin Green Star: A Commitment to Eco-Responsibility

The 2024 Michelin Guide also awarded four new Michelin Green Star establishments, showcasing eco-responsibility in Izmir and Istanbul. Izmir’s OD Urla, Vino Locale, and Hiç Lokanta, along with Istanbul’s Circle by Vertical, joined the esteemed list. Neolokal retained its Michelin Green Star, bringing the total number of eco-committed restaurants to five.

As the Michelin Guide continues to spotlight Türkiye’s culinary treasures, the 2024 awards serve as yet another testament to the country’s rise as a must-visit destination for global food enthusiasts. 

For a visual journey of the award-winning restaurants, click here.

Check this link for more information on the Michelin Guide and what a Michelin Star truly signifies.