HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A Turkish family in Honolulu is hosting a fundraiser at their restaurant Istanbul Hawaii to help people in Turkey and Syria who are struggling to rebuild their lives after powerful earthquakes devastated the region last month. Nearly 50,000 people died.
Mother-daughter team Chefs Nili Yildirim and Ahu Hettema joined HNN Sunrise Weekends to prepare one of their signature Turkish dishes called cilbir, made of poached eggs from a Waimanalo farm, housemade garlic yogurt, Turkish pepper paste, brown butter, thyme, dried mint, and dates. It’s served with a housemade sourdough bread that was fermented for 12 hours before it’s baked.
“Everything is made in house, mommy’s recipes,” Chef Ahu Hettema said. “Turkish cuisine is a very big cuisine because it is a cuisine of cultures, the cuisine of Ottoman cuisine. And it is almost impossible to represent the whole cuisine in one restaurant. What we tell people our guests here is we do cook what we love to eat, what I grew up eating because that’s what makes me happy.”
Hettema, who is from Mersin on Turkey’s southern coast, said many of her friends and vendors were affected by the quakes.
She is partnering with Hawaii based artist Leni Acosta Knight to raise funds to help provide warm meals to people who’ve lost so much.
On March 13 and 14 from 1-8 p.m., the restaurant will host an exhibition and auction of some of Knight’s paintings. Prints will also be available for sale, along with housemade Turkish delight candies on traditional copper plates. Proceeds will benefit World Central Kitchen and Doctors Without Borders.
“We found that organization who are cooking to people and providing hot meals to people, that is nothing makes us more than happier than providing hot meals to people,” Hettema said. “And it’s also the whole organization is a very reputable organization created by Chef Jose Andres, and he’s also on site and cooking for people.”
Istanbul Hawaii is at 1108 Auahi St, Suite 152, across from Whole Foods in Kakaako.
For more information, visit Istanbul Hawaii on Instagram or contact Leni Acosta Knight at (808) 859-3859 or Ahu Hettema at (808) 772-4440.
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