Orhan Yegen Opens a Gourmet Shop with Hot and Cold Dishes to Go On
First the chef delivers a lecture on Turkish cooking, then splendid mezze follow.
The uniquely eccentric, legendarily belligerent, strangely compelling Orhan Yegen announced today that he will open a Gourmet Shop in Eli Zabar territory at 1429 Third Avenue near 81st Street on February 16th.
If you’ve been around eating awhile, you may know Yegen as the restless Turkish dervish who cut a swath through dozens of Manhattan’s Turkish restaurants over the years, dazzling and then departing for the next spotlight.
Of course there will be cacik to go – creamy garlic-touched yogurt.
He seems to have mellowed now at his restaurant Sip Sak, even as his ponytail has grayed at 58. But he has never ceased reminding even the customers he disdains that there is only one purveyor of real Turkish food and that is him. “I only buy the most expensive ingredients,” he offers.
“Everybody has a gourmet shop. Daniel has a gourmet shop and Eli has. So why shouldn’t I?”
Find cheese-filled borek in the case, ready to warm and crisp at home.
At Fracela (it’s a Turkish baguette) in 100 sq. ft of space, the longtime champion of Turkish cookery will sell specialties he prepares daily, cold-to-go and, at meal times, warmed. There will be cooked vegetables and prepared salads, soups, and ingredients that he makes as well: tomato paste, pepper paste, his homemade yogurt and his mayonnaise. And of course the pita he serves at Sip Sak will be available too.
Every day there will be five to eight hot dishes for tasting and buying. Customers are invited to call in the morning to order a hot dish in advance for pickup and to specify if they have special dietary needs. Later on, there will be cooking classes, Yegen says.
Yegen was happy the long-ago day he opened his fish restaurant.
“I don’t really know who I am,” he said to me in a moment of unusual candor. “I might not even be Turkish.” Then he went on to note that both his father and mother were adopted. “So I don’t really know what I am.”
He sure melted me.
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