Andrew Merritt and Paul Smyth are the founders of an artist collective called Something & Son. They work on socially driven projects that often involve building a community around a common goal. Andrew and Paul designed an installation called EK BİÇ LIBRARY for the Istanbul Design Biennial back in 2014 that became our first public intervention, and the seed of our community. We’ve come a long way since we shared the soup and salad we made with out first harvest from the EK BİÇ LIBRARY with our followers. We now have a pretty serious quick service restaurant and catering operation. We even built a central kitchen in an old bread factory to extend our capabilities into baked goods. Fatmanur Çalık, Ayşegül Tok, and Abdullah Koçak are three friends from culinary school who recently joined our team (like a gang), but each individually promise to be a force to reckon with in the world of gastronomy. The YE İÇ team has many (arguably too many!) advisors when it comes to running the kitchen of the future, but one of them is irreplaceable: Tuba Şatana–the food-writer/photographer/guru, who knows how to do it right. Sara Açıkgöz has been with the team for over three years, and still sets the bar for work ethic (plus the yogurt she makes can’t be beaten.) Alican Gürlersoy has many interests such as mixology and photography, and even more varied responsibilities in the day-to-day management of the restaurant; we all hold our breath when it’s his day off… Fikriye Arslan not only keeps the dishes clean, but also tends to our greens whenever she can. Chechena Badarchy has worked in international kitchens with very famous names, but fortunately for us, her ambition has lead her to fermented drinks and sourdough bread–areas that we’re very keen in developing. Of course, we’ve the queen of pickling, Begüm Yaramancı, on our side, as well; so we feel pretty good about finding our path in the infinite world of fermentation. No wonder that Elif Duran is often in front of the cash register, she’s actually an ex-bookkeeper who has had enough of that line of work, and has come to us to explore permaculture. Mahfuz Çirik has the difficult job of keeping the place tidy and orderly so that our urban farm doesn’t turn into an urban jungle. And Bekir Gökçe has the even bigger challenge of keeping us moving among our different locations in the city in the Istanbul traffic!
Of course, there’re many more names behind this effort, and we constantly look for more people to make this a more fulfilling journey.
Eat well, drink well, listen to good music, read; spend time with good friends, engage in passionate conversations; stay close to nature, let nature give us a good workout, nourish us, calm us down.
Make our choices to create more desirable options in the future; support local production, avoid wasteful consumption; protect social and biological diversity around us because no one should have to live in a monoculture
Create value, don’t worry about maximizing profits–just be sustainable in our finances as in everything else; let our suppliers and our customers–even our fellow citizens who may not be aware of our existence–be a little better off while we get better off
Be curious, do research, experiment, share our learnings; support people who want to contribute; try to help little dreams come true so that we all can dream bigger dreams
These are two questions we feel we need to ask ourselves on a daily basis until we can give honest, straight-forward answers. Answers that make sense in relation to our own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of future generations…
We operate with these ambitions. We realize that these goals are often in conflict; it’s harder to find local produce in a big city that’s organic, for instance. So, we’re routinely forced to make compromises; and that’s what we try to highlight in our daily business. When we understand the trade-offs we’re facing, and make conscious choices, we believe that we can significantly reduce the harm we’d otherwise inflict on our bodies and the environment.
Why do we insist on local? Because we’d like to minimize our carbon footprint. Because we’d like to avoid the use of unknown (or quite well known!) chemicals to preserve our food on a long journey. And because we believe that helping our producers afford to live close by enriches the social fabric of our big city.
We sometimes put organic in quotation marks; that’s because the word has been overused and hollowed out of its intended meaning to some degree. We respect and value the certification process, but at the same time, we’re concerned that it may favor industrial-scale enterprises. That’s why we also choose to work with small producers that adhere to the principles of organic production even if they can’t afford the certification. But we’re always careful in indicating that distinction in our labeling. Whether or not the word organic appears in front of each ingredient that’s in our end-products, is not a marketing ploy; it’s our attempt at being as transparent on this issue as possible. With or without the organic certification, our goal is always to serve fruits and vegetables that are free from GMOs, chemical fertilisers, chemical pesticides, and chemical preservatives. And of course, we’ve the same princeiples regarding the chickens, eggs, and dairy products that we serve.
Last but not least, we aim for sustainable production and consumption. We realize that we’re very fortunate to have a lot of resources. If we’re smart, those resources should allow countless generations to lead increasingly richer lives on this planet. Of course, we also have the option of wasting our resources, and ruining our chances for a pleasant future. Every day we make hundreds of choices that’ll ultimately determine which path we’re on. Our goal is to show that it’s not so hard to make the right choices.