The Turkish Women of Berlin: Food, Photography and Multicultural Identities

The Turkish Women of Berlin: Food, Photography and Multicultural Identities

Berlin’s community of Turkish immigrants is changing. We spotlight four of the second-generation female entrepreneurs behind ISCHTA, a collaborative project which explores their multicultural identity through food, photography, flowers and traditional textiles.

meaning of being Turkish in Berlin is changing. A
new wave of cosmopolitan immigrants from Turkey’s larger cities and
the second generation of German-Turks are altering the existing
perception of Turkishness in Germany. These young Turks, whether
they have just arrived or were born and raised in Berlin, are
introducing the more modern and creative side of their culture,
defying stereotypes and finding their own identity and place in the
European realm. Four German-Turkish female entrepreneurs in
particular have built their businesses from scratch and have also
come together to form ISCHTA, a project which explores their multicultural
lives through food.

Photo by Ezgi Polat


Founded by sisters Ezgi and Eda Polat in 2019, the ISCHTA
project is an homage to their colourful hometown of Berlin, a
photographic celebration of the city’s multicultural culinary
scene. When cake designer Dilek Topkara discovered the blog in
early 2020, she joined the team, exploring and reinterpreting
recipes passed down through generations, as well as creating many
from scratch. Over time, the blog took on more collaborators
including botanic artist Hürriyet Bulan and Beyza Özler, a purveyor
of vintage kilims.

Today, the blog is a visual feast of colourful ingredients
seasoned with Turkish and Mediterranean influences. Still life
shots are a bounty of natural forms and colours. The blog has taken
a step into the real world with events, too. The first was a
Turkish breakfast at café and atelier Dilekerei, where homemade
dishes were served in a space decorated entirely with Özler’s
vintage kilims and pillows.

“ISCHTA has become far more to us than a blog where we simply
share pictures and artwork; it has grown into a dynamic project
which embodies our desires for exploration, expression and
representation,” says Dilek.

@ischta_ |

Meet the women behind ISCHTA

Photos by Ezgi Polat

Ezgi Polat

Ezgi’s love affair with photography began at the age of seven
when she discovered her mother’s camera. Soon after, she became the
official photographer for every family gathering and event,
shooting analogue photos that would pave the way for her later
career. After studying photography at the Neue Schule für
Fotografie, she became a freelance photographer despite the
well-known challenges of the profession. Nowadays, she has more
than 400,000 Instagram followers and regularly does shoots for tour
operators, restaurants and liquor brands. When she’s not
jet-setting around the globe for her international clients, Ezgi
focuses on the more artistic projects in her portfolio which
include mesmerizing portrait photography and stills that exude the
ethereal in their beauty.

@ezgipolat |

Photos by Melek Özdemir and Ezgi

Dilek Topkara

It’s a good thing that Dilek moved away from the scientific side
of baking and opened her own shop in Berlin so that the masses
could indulge in her edible craft. After studying food science and
technology in Berlin and working at leading pastry shops in
and London,
Dilek returned to the German capital to start her own business.
With the help of her family and friends, her cafe and atelier
Dilekerei opened its doors and grew organically, financed through
every cake sold. A cake designer extraordinaire who develops all
her own recipes, Dilek also does everything herself by hand,
including the minute details of her designs, often inspired by her
Turkish heritage. Her wedding cakes are akin to a work of art – if
you appreciate great patisserie, her cakes are for you.

@dilekerei |

Photos by Murat Yılmaz and İzzet

Beyza Özler

When Beyza moved to Kaş, a small Turkish town, in 2012 with her
six-month-old daughter, she set her eyes on kilims for the first
time. It was love at first sight; it was a union of her Turkish
heritage and her lifelong passion for textiles. She ended up taking
a few kilims back to Berlin where they were met with ardent
interest. So much interest in fact, that she ended up opening her
own shop. Beyza and her team in Istanbul scour Turkey for vintage
kilims, which are then washed and restored before they end up at
Wild Heart Free Soul, her store in Prenzlauer Berg. Handwoven from
hand-spun, naturally dyed sheep’s wool, Beyza’s kilims are all one
of a kind and come in a spectrum of mystic symbols and bold
colours. Dedicated to sustainability and fair trade, the kilims
undergo a long process before they end up in Berlin, including an
around three-month stay in a ‘kilim field’ where the sun acts as a
natural disinfectant and stain remover.

@wildheartfreesoulberlin |

Photos by Hürriyet Bulan

Hürriyet Bulan

When a florist asked her to work with him 20 years ago, Hürriyet
had been hesitant to accept – though it must have been fate; today
her life revolves around flowers. She’s a designer of floral
arrangements and events and a self-taught floral photographer to
boot. Her floral studio (not a shop) was something of a novelty
when it first opened in Berlin. The designer’s lush botanic art has
decorated weddings and events such as Berlin Fashion Week. For her
photography, Hürriyet’s flowers act as models whose delicate
details are striking against a black background, a kind of visual
journey into the spectacular forms of nature. Yet whatever she
does, Hürriyet is a people person, believing the power of flowers
lies in their ability to connect humans and spread positivity.

@botanicart |

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