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Discovering The World's Table launches on BBC - with a trip to Turkey

A new travel and food programme, hosted by Nick Kwek, from Fife, will broadcast this weekend.

Published: September 15, 2023

It’s a dream job for many, travelling the world and trying local food, but how well do you know your favourite destinations?

It’s a question being asked by journalist and broadcaster, Nick Kwek, who is fulfilling this dream role hosting a new programme, Discovering The World’s Table.

For Nick, this show is a culmination of his experience and lifelong obsession with food. Of this he said: “I'm a television presenter and journalist, and for many years have been travelling around the world, with various different programmes, including making the BBC weekly technology show Click, which has taken me all over the planet. I’ve also filmed for programmes such as the BBC travel show, and other outlets outside the BBC.

"I have always had a passion for food that started from a young age. I grew up in Fife in my dad's Chinese restaurant. I literally grew up in the kitchen of his restaurant because it was joined onto our house, outside Glenrothes.

"Having grown up in the kitchen, I’d help my Dad with the cooking.” Nick continued learning about food from some of Scotland’s best chefs and restaurants when he was studying in Edinburgh.

“Whilst I was at University, I had jobs working in restaurants and ended up working at some of the best ones in Edinburgh, at Oloroso on George Street with chef Tony Singh and then Ondine on George the Fourth Bridge.”

Nick credits his love of food to his family, who he said are also obsessed with food. He said: “I'm half Chinese, half Scottish. My dad's side of the family - he's Chinese Malaysian - and they're all over there.

"I grew up basically with this mantra that we don't eat to live, we live to eat. My dad would always make huge dinners and we'd always have friends and family around. Eating is kind of this ceremony in our household.”

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In Discovering the World's Table, which will be shown on BBC News on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September (and available on iPlayer), Nick visits western Turkey, specifically the Aegean peninsula of Izmir, one of Turkey’s most vibrant food scenes.

Discovering the world's table BBC

There he finds that a boutique wine scene is blossoming and traditional seasonal ingredients are reinvented for modern menus.

Starting in Izmir, Nick gets a taste of the many cultural influences that make Izmir unique, visiting one of the area’s oldest pastry shops. He meets vintner Ceylan Ertörer Diaz, co-founder of Hus Wines, who explains how thousands of years of winemaking came to a standstill during a dramatic population exchange around a hundred years ago, when the resident Greeks from Izmir were moved to Crete with the Turkish population coming the other way.

Along with the Greeks went the area’s winemaking skills, but now the community is bringing this lost art back.

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Nick continues his culinary journey by meeting Ozan Kumbasar, an esteemed chef who puts sustainability at the core of his seasonal cooking. Nick sails out to taste a native speciality - the ‘Urla oyster’ - hand-selected by freediver Emre Kızılışık.

Back on land, Nick learns why the native mastic artichoke is so beloved in this region, accompanying chef Ozan in his fields where he’s striving to protect this native artichoke species, and helps to collect crops to create a feast at Ozan’s restaurant. 

When asked where in Scotland he thinks he'd film for 'off the beaten track' food, drink and producers, Nick said: "I think that whenever people come to Scotland, they might go to the major cities, they might go to Glasgow, which obviously has an amazing food scene, or Edinburgh. But I could be biased and say go to Fife.

"There is a developing food scene and Fife and Bowhouse in particular is amazing, with its showcase of local producers.

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"Plus you've got amazing seafood all along the coast, in Fife and everywhere in Scotland.

"I still even though a lot of people think fish and chips is English, but I think that we have the best fish and chips in Scotland. For example, the Anstruther fish and chip shop is amazing, as is The Bay Fish and Chips in Stonehaven.

"I'm also more and more impressed with the independent restaurants in Leith. I think often when people come to Edinburgh, they just don't venture down to Leith but it has changed so much over recent years and there are just so many great foodie destinations."

Find out more about Discovering’s The World’s Table via the BBC website.

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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