Mozaik Bahçe dishes up a taste of Hatay in Fethiye using locally grown produce and a commitment to local growers and the environment.
A Hidden Gem
Mozaik Bahçe (Mosaic Garden) is in the quarter of Fethiye that lies between the harbour and the fish market but this does not stop it from being one of the most popular restaurants in town. In fact its central but quiet location has proved to be the perfect setting.
When owner, Doğan Eraslan, decided to open a restaurant celebrating the food of Hatay, a region of southern Turkey close to Syria, he already knew that this province’s cuisine had a reputation for being the tastiest in the country.
His firm conviction that Fethiye’s residents and tourists would enjoy the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes from his childhood in Antakya was quickly proved to be spot on.
He also has a strong belief that using produce from local farmers not only enhances the quality of his vegetable dishes; it also minimizes the restaurant’s environmental footprint.
Taste of Fethiye
The lauded Taste of Fethiye project, one of several global initiatives by the Travel Foundation, to increase sustainability and environmental awareness in the tourism sector, has been working with farmers for four years, encouraging them to focus on quality and consistency, while reducing the use of chemicals.
The project works with Coşkunlar, one of the town’s main fruit and vegetable suppliers that had already shown a preference for working with local farmers.
Doğan had always bought the restaurant’s vegetables from Coşkunlar and was happy to buy Taste of Fethiye produce from the beginning.
Fresh and local is best
He explained his decision.
“Everyday I visit [Coşkunlar] and see the local farmers arriving with their fresh vegetables piled in the back of their motorbikes and cars. They have just been picked, and couldn’t be any fresher.”
As a visit to the Friday Farmers’ Market will confirm, many local farmers grow vegetables on a small scale, a far cry from the massive agribusinesses so often seen further south.
Doğan explains the logic of using local produce.
“This not only means Mozaik Bahçe is supporting local farmers and shops, it is also helping to reduce the environmental impact of transporting produce from hundreds of kilometres away.”
He points out the economic advantages of buying locally.
“They are cheaper than vegetables from other parts of Turkey because the transport costs are minimal and that means that we in turn can keep our prices down. This is definitely a win-win situation for Fethiye’s farmers, the town, our customers and us! Agriculture and tourism in Fethiye should always support each other.”
Doğan likes to employ people who have a knowledge and feeling for Hatay and many of his employees are from that area including the family Biçer who work in the restaurant, and all the kitchen staff come from Hatay too; making one big happy Hatay Family.
While all of them bring the culture of this beautiful part of Turkey to Fethiye, it is the chef Murat Gümüş and his team who deliver the authentic flavours of Hatay’s capital, Antakya, to Fethiye’s diners.
Popular dining location
On summer evenings the restaurant’s leafy garden is more often than not full to bursting, with additional tables set up on the adjacent cobbled walkway.
The happy, chattering customers, their faces lit by twinkling mosaic lights in the branches of overhanging trees, tuck into Hatay dishes made with Fethiye vegetables, which that very morning were growing only a few kilometres away.
As Doğan says, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
The Mozaik Bahçe team. From right: Rıdvan Biçer, Murat Gümüş, Pınar Biçer, Havana, Edibe Biçer, Ceylan Yağmuroğlu, Ogün Biçer, Doğan Eraslan.
The Taste of Fethiye Project
Find out more in our article Taste of Fethiye Fair to be Firm Fixture for Kayakoy