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by Aaron Willis

This trip was set up by one of my best friends, Tu Le. It was an opportunity to do some cooking in cities I had never even visited before and soak up the culture of these old European cities. We were fortunate enough to have friends in each city we visited who were happy to show a couple of Chefs around and eat their way through different parts of the city.

First stop was one of the most magical places on earth, Istanbul. The spices, the culture, the authenticity of the people are all traits of the city that were hard to ignore. We feasted on traditional food and in the traditional way. Dinners that last hours, conversation that don’t stop and small plates meant for sharing were some of the highlights.

We then headed to Amsterdam where I was introduced to a fellow chef who was delighted in showing us some of her favorite restaurants in Amsterdam. We prepared one meal while in Amsterdam, taking inspiration from the local markets and the desire to use a few Asian ingredients, Tu and I created a nice four-course meal.

The last food stops on this European Tour came in one country, two cities. Being back in Germany and getting to see the farmers market that inspired me years before was a welcomed blast from the past. Getting to see Cologne for the first time was amazing. The city is vibrant and reminded me a great deal of the Pacific Northwest. Arts and culture combine to form hip parts of town unapologetically flaunting their stuff. Great food and a lively bar culture make this a must visit city.

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