See Feel Taste Anatolia with James Close and Maksut Askar

With Maksut Aşkar, the executive chef of Neolokal in Istanbul, we are organising a series of guest chef dinners to showcase the Anatolian culture and gastronomy and inspire well acclaimed chefs with new flavours. We have invited some amazing chefs from all over the world to come to Turkey, spend a few days with us, having an opportunity to get to know the culture, taste the traditional and contemporary cuisine of the country, meet people and at the end of their stay cook a meal inspired by their experience. The chefs will not cook their classical dishes but will be challenged to express through their cooking their experience and flavours of Anatolia.⠀

On Sunday, the 13th May we are starting our third See Feel Anatolia journey, this time is our guest chef James Close of the two Michelin starred Raby Hunt.

Raby Hunt is set in the heart of the rural hamlet of Summerhouse, near Darlington, in beautiful County Durham. It is North East England’s first and only two Michelin star restaurant.

James Close

James Close, the chef patron, sees the contemporary Britain as a country strongly influenced by multiculturalism rooted in the colonial past as well as the migrations of today that made exotic ingredients easily available and as such an unmissable part of the British culture. British love for exotic lands and flavours created a very fertile ground for a wealth of ethnical cuisines that became the main source of inspiration for the young chef who is cooking without any limits of locality or trends. The ingredients and techniques from all over the world are his playground, feeding his vivid mind and giving to his geeky nature limitless possibilities for exploration and learning. James is an obsessive chef who in constant search for perfection rarely leaves his kitchen. Cooking makes him happy.

James Close was a professional golf player when he fell in love with food, and thus changed his career at the age of 29, when his parents in 2009 bought a pub called Raby Hunt in Darlington. The self taught chef quickly understood that his ambitions point higher, so the pub became a restaurant which already two years after its opening won the first and five years later also the second Michelin star, putting the Raby Hunt with its unique food (between his signature dishes are  for example artichoke with offal and periord truffle as well as blue taco with pork belly)  between the best restaurants in the United Kingdom.

A former drovers’ inn, The Raby Hunt has been providing first class hospitality for nigh on 200 years. Nowadays, it may not be weary travellers stopping off en route to Northumberland and eventually Scotland who come knocking on the door of the two Michelin star The Raby Hunt, but if you are a diner looking to extend your gourmet experience, The Raby Hunt is still the perfect place to eat, drink and enjoy a pleasant sleep afterwards.

James Close will cook alongside Maksut Aşkar on the 16th at Neolokal in Istanbul. ⠀

James and Maksut will be in their explorations joined by James’ sous chefs Maria and Alex,  by Tove, our invited journalist, and me. You can follow our journey through Istanbul from Sunday (13th May) on Instagram: James, Maria,  Maksut, Tove & Andreja and get a small insight into our exciting journey.

Book the dinner here.

View from the Galata Bridge. Photo: AL

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