With over 15 years of culinary experience Executive Chef, Ilhan Erkek holds a Hotel Management degree from Istanbul University, one of the world’s most renowned schools for culinary arts and a vocational diploma from M.I.M in Hotel Management and Tourism.
Before coming to Antrim 1844’s Smokehouse Restaurant, he served as Executive Chef for the 4th Street Dining Corporation’s Ottoman Taverna – a Michelin Guide, Bib Gourmand awardee and Alba Osteria. Earning “Best Hotels in Europe” and a 2017 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award, Erkek began his culinary career at five-star rated Ritz Carlton, Istanbul. From there, he continued up the ranks with some of the world’s most prestigious establishments including Ritz Carlton’s Grand Lakes Vineyard Grill serving as Restaurant Supervisor to its Gold Badge “Best Hotels in the USA” property.
Florida’s St. Petersburg awarding-winning eclectic dining destination, Tryst Gastro Lounge welcomed Erkek as its Executive Chef in 2011, and from there he went on to Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Awardee, Ritz Carlton, Naples owning the role as Chef Specialty Garde Manger. During his tenure Erkek continued to hone his skills as a modernist chef, creating his masterpieces based on seasonal selections while crafting new and innovative ways to bring locavore to the table with the freshest of ingredients. It is this style of constructing culinary experiences – often with a Mediterranean nod – that has helped Erkek become a master chef with the philosophy of always surprising and engaging diners with food that defies their expectations.