USA Know-nothings throw the word pitmaster around (to describe men who cook barbecue for a living) to the point where ‘master’ has been rendered effectively useless. Not so in Turkiye. Over there the word is usta and it is accorded sparingly to true masters, experts, old hands, workmen, craftsmen…you get the idea.
In USA if you know how to strike a match to last weeks paper, and put a slab of meat on a grill then voila! You’re a pitmaster. Of course well-seasoned newspapermen still use the word pitboss to describe barbecue cooks, only pulling out the ‘master’ phrase perhaps one or twice a year.
Pictured here is the usta at Kofteci Huseyin (est.1958) It’s my favorite kofte (meatball) shop in Istanbul. If you go, please make sure to order a side of fasulye piyazi (Turkish bean salad) as it’s one of the best versions in The City. Of course plenty somun ekmek (warm Turkish bread) will come with your meal to soak up all the juices on the plate.
Address: Sehit Muhtar Mah. Kurabiye Sok, Akgun Is Hani, 14/A – Beyoglu