Over the past few years, our view of chefs has changed from fat prima donnas to handsome, charming gentleman. They all share the view that cooking is an art form. Fabrice Canelle, the head chef of the Ciragan Kempinski Hotel, belongs to this new breed and yet is also a breed apart. Canelle paints and sells pictures using vegetable dyes, donating half his proceeds to street kids. He also designs clothing and acted as a consultant for the popular "Picasso's Kitchen" cookbook. After working for 8 years in the Paris and 17 years in the US at such illustrious restaurants as The Russian Tea Room, the Brasserie Savoy, the Ritz Carlton Hotels in San Francisco and Washington and the Jean Claude Restaurant, the French chef came to Istanbul in 2000.
Tell us about your paintings.
Others had tried before me and failed. I reduce vegetable stocks to make the dyes.
Which fruits and vegetables do you use?
Carrots, red peppers, cucumbers, red wine, squid ink, grapes and cherries. I boil the vegetables, strain the stock and add vodka.
Why did you decide to paint in this way?
I am primarily a chef, not a painter. My paintings are an extension of my work in the kitchen. I am a creative person and I wanted to share my 27 years of cooking experience in an unusual way.
You also design clothing.
The exhibition that I opened here is moving to Tokyo. Next, I plan to hold a fashion show. I want to create this kind of fashion at least once in my life. Once again, I will use products from the kitchen in my creations.
Tell us your thoughts about the Turkish kitchen.
I have always loved discovering new cuisines. So, I adapted easily. The Turkish kitchen is very attractive. All the fruits and vegetables are delicious and beautiful. The tomatoes, carrots and greens are amazing. I think that all this beauty makes the Turkish kitchen very sexy.
Where do you like to eat in Istanbul?
These have changed over time. I love eating at the eateries in Taksim. I also like the kebap at Tike, the Turkish food at Borsa and the fish at Poseidon. Plus, I love "borek" pastry. I live the good life in Istanbul. I also love the fact that there is so much to do in the city. This is the ideal place to be if you have unusual ideas and talents.
(During our interview, Canelle also added that he equates melons with breasts, figs with the Mediterranean and eating cherries with embracing a woman!)
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''The Turkish cuisine is very sexy''
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