When NBC's Today visited Turkey this spring, as part of its annual “Where in the World?” series, co-host Matt Lauer interviewed none other than Mehmet Gürs ’93. That’s because Gürs himself has become a culinary brand, and Turkey’s star chef of the moment.
With six restaurants dotted throughout Istanbul and the chic resort towns that ring the coast, a catering company, cookbooks and even TV cooking shows of his own, the Finnish-born über-chef and his food have risen to iconic status not only in his father’s homeland, but across the world. With rave reviews from The New York Times, Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot Tables,” among many others, Gürs is enjoying international stardom for his inventive Swedish-Mediterranean cuisine.
“Do what you love, love what you do,” Gürs says when asked about his entrepreneurial and creative spark. “It’s really that simple — and, of course, make sure that you’ve learned something new each day.”
Despite his demanding schedule and plans for additional restaurants, Gürs has managed to remain active with the Istanbul community. Each month he hosts a class of underprivileged kids in one of his restaurants and treats them to lunch and a film. He also participates in a UNICEF program called “Unichef,” where proceeds from his restaurants each Mother’s Day are used to build preschool classes for five-year-olds.