Shane Delia is a celebrated Australian chef with a large following of enthusiastic foodies. In search of fresh ideas he travels abroad and, inspired by what he sees and tastes, he returns to cook his delicious interpretations of traditional recipes at Maha, his Melbourne restaurant.

Last year he visited Fethiye to film an entire episode of his latest series on Turkish cuisine.

Entitled, Shane Delia’s Spice Journey: Turkey, the series is currently being broadcast on Thursday evenings by Australia’s SBS Channel.

Shane Delia and Ayşe Genç at Fethiye's Friday market
Shane Delia and Ayşe Genç at Fethiye’s Friday market

Fethiye’s food takes centre stage

Initially, when Fethiye was suggested as a possible location, the production company was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough traditional food in the area to fill a 25 minute programme.

However, when they came over for a reccy, they were soon to realize that in fact the very opposite was true!

As a result Fethiye’s food became centre stage for an entire episode, putting local produce from the Fethiye Friday market and traditional recipes from Üzümlü and Kayaköy firmly in the lime light for Australian viewers.

The programme, part of Shane Delia’s Spice Journey: Turkey, was finally broadcast last week on SBS and appropriately titled: Fethiye – Land Of Plenty.

Not just bacon and eggs!

Shane Delia blogged about his experiences in Fethiye just before the episode was shown on Australian TV. He was clearly blown away by what he saw and tasted!

Some of the most beautiful food I experienced I found in this neck of the woods. Fethiye was abundant with all types of amazing produce and artisan food products.”

Making delicious sweet grape pekmez (molasses) and walnut the traditional way
Making delicious sweet grape pekmez (molasses) and walnut the traditional way

Of course he was very direct, in a way that Australians are famous for, when he admitted that before he came to Fethiye he “wasn’t expecting much”.

Getting straight to the point he said he had imagined it would be…

Bright red sunburnt English bodies and crappy restaurants that served bacon and eggs and UK style Indian curries everywhere! I really wasn’t expecting much. But like most things in life it’s when expectations are low and the outlook is grim that you get caught by surprise. This was no exception”.

Some of the best tasting tomatoes

But once he’d seen the ‘real’ Fethiye for himself, Shane became incredibly positive about the region and was genuinely disappointed that not all of his gastronomic experiences could be used.

For example, he was very impressed by his visit to Dikencik, the home of Cengiz and Ayşe Genç.

Something that didn’t make it into the episode was when we spent the day at Aisha’s house in the hills.

She prepared a breath-taking array of local dishes that really showed off the bountiful countryside and how diverse Turkeys produce really is.”

Wild morel mushrooms, game, preserved fruits and nuts and some of the best tasting tomatoes I’ve ever had.

All dishes were prepared very simply…with love and respect for the quality of the ingredients and the people who give so much to produce it”.

Tucking into a feast made by Ayşe Genç at Dikencik
Tucking into a feast made by Ayşe Genç at Dikencik

Behind the tourist façade

It’s clear that the Australian/Maltese heritage chef was genuinely impressed by what was going on behind Fethiye’s tourist façade.

Everywhere you look in Turkey there is something that can take your breath away, an abundance of history, both recent and ancient.

Stunning scenery, food and excitement around every corner. The coastline is a beautiful place to visit.

Head for the hills

Delia continued:

There is a deep love of culture, food and the land that the people of Fethiye and its surrounding villages hold.

Something that is in the air and you can’t help to feel as soon as you leave the tourist polluted bay and head for the hills. You can’t say you have seen Fethiye unless you have explored what is off the beaten path.

Like all good things, a little effort is needed to experience something truly rewarding.

Nothing good comes easy. This is definitely the case in Fethiye.”

Feedback from Australia about the programme has been very positive and enthusiastic by all those who know the area.  Equally, people who have never been to Fethiye are now saying they can’t wait to come and try the region’s traditional food. Until they do, they can now have a go at cooking some of Shane’s interpretation of Fethiye’s tradition food and recipes based on his own visit. Or they can visit Maha when he can cook it for them!

A DVD of this series will soon be available to purchase from here:

Here is a trailer for the series:

Shane Delia in Fethiye (Kayaköy)