Hettema Ahu & Nili Crop

Ahu Hettema & Nili Yildirim

Istanbul - Honolulu, HI

Istanbul Hawaii emerged from a profound journey of resilience and inspiration. A decade of separation from her homeland of Turkey, due to immigration challenges, left chef Ahu Hettema in the depths of despair.

In this moment of darkness, her mother Nili Yildirim, a virtuoso of Grand Turkish Cuisine, brought the vibrant flavors and spices of Turkey to the shores of beautiful Hawaii. Amidst a tapestry of colors and aromas, Hettema discovered solace and vitality in her mother’s culinary artistry. She transformed spices into her own canvas, painting with hues of flavor. As she cooked alongside her mother, Hettema found that their shared creations were not only nourishing but also a source of boundless joy and healing.

Her art underwent a remarkable transformation, manifesting as flavors and aromas in food. The more she cooked with her mother, the more she healed. It was a journey of rediscovery and renewal, and it sparked a profound decision: to share the abundant flavors, aromas, and culture of grand Turkish cuisine with the enchanting land of Hawaii.

Chef Ahu Hettema views her journey with profound gratitude, recognizing that every challenge surmounted has empowered her to become the individual she is today. Challenges are no longer obstacles; they are sources of strength and boundless inspiration.

PARTICIPATING EVENTS

Spice Market

Kohola Lagoon 1 at Ko Olina Resort fronting Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa and Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

November 10, 2024

Hawaii Food & Wine Festival recognizes the use of diacritical markings in the modern orthography of Hawaiian language including the ‘okina [‘] or glottal stop, and the kahakō [ā] or macron. However, in order to ensure the best online experience visitors to our website, these markings may be omitted throughout our site. We thank you for your understanding.