Turkish Chef Behind Romanian Soccer Teamís Food

Monday, June 09 2008 @ 08:01 am UTC

The Turkish chef's repertoire of healthy, tasty food includes pasta, fish and salad dishes that are always consumed with gusto. Turkish chef Yalan Kadir is the cook for Romania's team at the Euro 2008 Championship, and just the mention of him brings a smile to the faces of the squad's usually reserved officials, who begin licking their lips at the thought of his delicious creations. "He cooks fantastically," said federation spokesman Paul Zaharia, interrupting his usually sober demeanor with a rare grin. Kadir arrived in the Swiss mountain St. Gallen, where the team is based during the championships, a week before the Romanian team, making his own preparations while the squad prepares for its opening match with France on Monday.

"I'll be doing five or six sour soups and cream soups a day instead of one a day," he told daily Pro Sport in a rare interview in April. "Gone are the days when I brought Romanian feta cheese and mineral water. It will all be brought locally." The most popular items on the chef's menu are his soups, especially ciorbe, a Turkish broth soured with lemon or borsch. "His food is delicious," official Dan Bragoanu said. "I like everything that I've eaten. It's tasty and nutritious."

Kadir has been with Romania's national team for about a decade, so it is no longer surprising that the central European nation's national team has a Turkish chef. Officials mostly shrug when asked for a reason. There is a Turkish influence on both Romania's language and cuisine, the southern and eastern parts of which were under Ottoman authority until the country won its independence after a bloody war in 1877.
Along with typical central European foods widely available in Romania--pork schnitzel, pickled cucumbers and bell peppers served with french fries--Kadir also serves the team variations on Turkish favorites, such as rice and meat stuffed vine rolls, roasted peppers in vinaigrette and smoked eggplant salad.

Other members of the Romanian team have a special affiliation with Turkey as well. Former star Gheorghe Hagi was a midfielder and coach at Galatasaray before coaching Bursaspor, while Mircea Lucescu coached Galatasaray and Besiktas. Kadir's menu does not just include the savory flavors associated with Turkish cuisine. Under the guidance of the team doctor and nutritionist Pompiliu Popescu, he even makes desserts. "He does all kinds of sweets, even chocolate ones," Zaharia said with a grin.

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