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Chef Ebru Baybara Demir | Turkey | From Kitchen To Community

Chef | Social Entrepreneur | Humanitarian | Winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize 2023

In the vibrant city of Mardin, Turkey, renowned chef and social entrepreneur Ebru Baybara Demir weaves a tale of culinary excellence and humanitarian spirit. Raised amidst the rich tapestry of Istanbul, Ebru embarked on a journey that would redefine gastronomy and empower countless women and refugees. Ebru’s culinary adventure began serendipitously in 2001 when she opened Cercis Murat Mansion in Mardin with 21 women. Her love for Anatolian cuisine and commitment to social projects targeting women's employment and biodiversity set her apart. Ebru's innovative initiatives include the Soil to Plate Agricultural Development Cooperative and the Biodegradable Waste Management Project, which revived the ancient Sorgul wheat.

But Ebru’s story is more than just about food. It’s about making a difference. Her Kitchen of Hope and Harran Gastronomy School taught Syrian refugees and local women vital skills like baking, farming, and mushroom cultivation, providing them with new opportunities and hope.

Ebru's dedication didn't stop there. Following the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey in 2023, she established a soup kitchen in Hatay, serving thousands of hot meals daily to those in need. Her efforts earned her the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize and the Aenne Burda Creative Leadership Award in 2023.

As she organizes the evening menu at Cercis Murat Konaği, fields calls about her second restaurant, and samples quince for dessert, Ebru reflects on her journey. “When people ask what I do, I say I’m a chef,” she says. “But my job is so much more than just cooking.” Indeed, her work reflects the diversity and resilience of Mardin, a city steeped in history and culture.

Ebru’s efforts have transformed Mardin from a city with a handful of tourists to a vibrant destination welcoming millions. Her upcoming café, run by Turkish and Syrian chefs, will further support her soul kitchens, ensuring that her impact continues to grow.

Ebru Baybara Demir’s story is a testament to the power of food as a tool for change, bridging cultures, and empowering communities. Her journey is a blend of culinary passion, social entrepreneurship, and unwavering dedication to making the world a better place, one dish at a time.

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