Thursday, 23 May 2024
An experimental somatçı*chef in the mysterious historical kitchen

An experimental somatçı*chef in the mysterious historical kitchen

Famous chef Ulaş Tekerkaya, who has examined both the Mevleviyeh kitchen and Neolithic period kitchen in details, adds wonderful works to the adventure of Konya’s gastronomy history.   

Famous chef Ulaş Tekerkaya from Konya has brought the food from nine thousand years ago in Çatalhöyük society into the present.

Tekerkaya runs the restaurant “Somatçı Fihi Ma Fih” in the central district Karatay and decided to examine the food culture of Çatalhöyük society that is a residential area in Neolithic period. 


Çatalhöyük attracts the attention of the world with the findings during the excavation for over a century. Tekerkaya started to analyse the data from Neolithic antique city and dreamed of bringing the kitchen culture of the residential area in the society.  

Nearly 7 years ago, Tekerkaya brought the food from nine thousand years ago into the present with the help of excavation team particularly and academicians from Karamanoğlu Mehmetbey University and Necmettin Erbakan University

Tekerkaya prepared his works in the light of information that he obtained from nearly a hundred references and gathered them together in his work “Çatalhöyük 9 Thousand Years of Cuisine Culture in The Neolithic Age

From Çatalhöyük society, which is the first residential area known, Tekerkaya applied the cooking techniques of domestic and hunting animals, fish and cereals. This gives the opportunity to taste the food from that era. The people who taste the fish and meat cooked over stone and grinded cereals over a stone feel like they are discovering the taste of people from 9 thousand years ago.   

-Brings traditional food into the present-

Expressing that his works related to the research about what people ate during Neolithic period has ended, Tekerkaya said that “we managed to do this with a team of 20 people including academicians. With the contributions of academician Mustafa Akturfan and Ümit Sormaz, in the light of information that is obtained from nearly a hundred references, we found out the cooking methods of Neolithic period food. Our aim was to gain the cultural richness of Anatolia for the humanity. For this reason, we prepared this book.”  

Tekerkaya expressed that he took advantage of the archaeological excavation team in Çatalhöyük and they found out that equipment made from clay gun, pottery and obsidian was used in cooking 9 hundred years ago. 

- Tries to keep Mevleviyeh kitchen alive with 45 special recipes-

Tekerkaya has examined the works of Rumi, has visited Mevlevi Lodges in Turkey and consulted other experts. As a result of his researches, he obtained different recipes and he aims to promote the culture, customs and kitchen of Mevleviyeh.  

He started his career as a chef at a very young age, and after that he started to search the favourite food of Rumi at the recommendation. Later, he discovered the Mevleviyeh kitchen and studied it for a long time. At the end, he found out 45 recipes and tries to keep both Mevleviyeh and Seljuks kitchen alive. 

Tekerkaya, 43, is mentioned as Somatçı, which means the person who sets and clears the table in the tradition of Mevleviyeh, and started his career as a waiter in a hotel. His talent was discovered in a short time and started to cook food in the kitchen. When he joined the army, he was assigned as the protocol cook. He completed his duty in army with a “certificate of excellence” thanks to his talent in cooking and he was hired as a chef in Turkish Air Force in 1999.   


Tekerkaya, “Somatçı”, worked there for ten years. His life gained a new meaning when one of his commanders asked these questions; “What food did Rumi eat? What did he like?”

While expressing that he found himself in the traditions and appreciation culture of Mevleviyeh kitchen, Tekerkaya said that “after searching this culture for two years with full effort, in 2011 I quit my job and tended to Mevleviyeh kitchen. During my researches, I visited all the Mevlevi lodges all around Turkey. I examined the Mesnevi of Rumi and wrote aside the related couplets. Of course there weren’t exact recipes in the couplets but Rumi wrote some quotes related to cooking like “Hey ateşbaz hey, some almond, some flour. Cook almond halva for the people”. In couplets like these the exact amounts were not given; however, the ingredients were given. I investigated these couplets and got support from the people who already have information. I created my own recipes by trying and consulting the protocol with 130 people that I cooked for when I was in army.”     

Tekerkaya expresses that he created 45 different recipes depending upon Mevleviyeh kitchen and Seljuks kitchen after a lot of efforts. After that, he started to serve these recipes to the domestic and foreign tourists in his restaurant near Mevlana Museum nine years ago. He says that each of his food is very special and is admired. He tries to serve both the food and the Mevleviyeh tradition to his guests. With his book, also translated in English, he aims to explain the Mevleviyeh cuisine, traditions and customs in the right way. He says that “we have a concern; we want this culture recorded and not to vanish away. I published this book for this reason. In the book, I told about the food in our menu. Our book was published in two languages to make it available for all people who want to search this culture. Beside we went the book to all Mevlevi lodges.”    

*somatçı; means the person who sets and clears the table in the tradition of Mevleviyeh.