After a 5-minute walk from the İTÜ Ayazağa metro station we’re met by the MSA logo on the iconic purple background. Following a warm welcome inside, we start our tour with the three kitchens on the first floor. The workshop kitchen isn’t in use but we get the chance to watch the pastry and culinary arts students from the windows. We wave at the students and take a few photos of their masterpiece, then move on to the second floor.
Just after the stairs, we see the MSA museum which consists of pieces from the Ottoman Empire to the first years of the Republic. When we move to the left we see two newly-constructed kitchens and the MSA library. What most pleased me about the library is that it’s the largest culinary library in Turkey and if you’re interested in cooking, you can use it whether you’re a MSA student or not. Afterwards, we move on to the auditorium to watch the demo.
By the time we get to the auditorium, instructor chef Efe Çakıroğlu is already ready and quickly starts telling us what he’s going to prepare after a short introduction. The words that come out of his mouth catch everybody’s attention immediately: “We’re going to be making ice cream with poppy seeds using liquid nitrogen!”. He prepares creme anglaise by explaining us the techniques and giving some tips, just as if we were his students. The real fun begins after he pours the cream into a kitchen robot and begins mixing. Slowly, he adds liquid nitrogen from a jug and instantly an immense amount of vapor starts coming out of the bowl. As you might’ve already known, nitrogen is in gas form in room temperature and compromises about 80% of the air we breathe. In order to liquify the nitrogen, we need to lower its temperature to -196°C, which means that accidentally coming in direct contact with it can result in a trip to the emergency room.
As he keeps pouring the nitrogen by intervals, Chef Efe infroms us on the usage of liquid nitrogen in culinary field throughout the history. We learn that the inventors of liquid-nitrogen-ice-cream were American soldiers and the 3-Michelin-star chef Heston Blumenthal’s signature dish was Bacon Ice Cream prepared à la liquid nitrogen. When the cream is starting to thicken we add the poppy seeds and after 10 minutes, the ice creams are ready! The advantage of this elaborate technique compared to simply popping the creme anglaise in the freezer, is avoiding frosting and gaining time.
While eating our delicious ice creams, we talk with Chef Efe and ask everything on our mind about culinary arts. We do ask everything, when he decided to become a cook, if the preferred Turkish cuisine or foreign cuisines (the answer is of course Turkish), if his parents opposed him following his dreams… He answers each one very patiently, so when our ice creams are finished and we’re out of questions, we say goodbye and end our trip. Surely, not without taking a group picture!
You can also find the video of our trip on YouTube!