Beyaz Fırın

1836

beyaz_firin
The Stoyanof family’s roots go back to the village of Krisos near the western Macedonian city of Kastoria, now part of Greece. And for centuries, they put bread on the table by... quite literally putting bread on people’s tables; that is, they were bakers. They moved to İstanbul in the early 1800s, and, in 1836, established a bakery in the neighborhood of Balat on the Golden Horn to sell poğaça, a popular savory pastry. This was the beginning of what would become an intergenerational school where fathers would teach their sons the family business and craft. Of the three brothers who learned the trade back then, Anton taught his son Kosma and eventually turned over the business to him. And Kosma did the same to his own progeny.

Kosma had three sons named Dimitri, Grigor, and Petro. Commercial records for İstanbul bakeries sometimes list the business under Kosma’s name, and sometimes under his sons’. In fact, the names were associated with different locations. Thus, the Annuaire Oriental du Commerce for 1885 listed a baker named “Cosma” in the neighborhood of Feriköy. The same directory for 1891 mentioned a poğaça seller named Dimitri (Petro) at No. 202, Galata Avenue. In 1909, a baker named Cosma was once again listed in Feriköy, on No. 46, Tatavla Avenue (now Kurtuluş Avenue). It is likely, though not certain, that these bakeries all belonged to the Stoyanof family.

Dimitri worked at his father’s shop, popularly known as “The Bulgarian’s Bakery.” In 1895, he married Katina in his home town. They had two sons and a daughter, all born in their ancestral village, and for a long time Dimitri was only able to visit them once a year. In 1912-13, the years of the Balkan Wars, the family set out for İstanbul. Dimitri spent the war years in Romania and finally rejoined his family in his paternal home. Though the Stoyanofs had been supporting themselves with the income from a single bakery, Kosma Efendi was led by the growth of his family to open a new shop for each of his sons. Dimitri’s was in Üsküdar, Gregor’s in Karaköy, and Petro’s in Sarıyer at the very location where the famous börek seller is located today. Since his business was now on the Asian side of the city, Dimitri moved his home to Kadıköy where he soon opened a second bakery.

The century-long tale of Beyaz Fırın can also be followed in the Ottoman Archives. A document from 1921 mentions a merger between Üsküdar Fırıncı Tevhid i Mübayaat Şirketi (Üsküdar Bakeries’ Consolidated Purchasing Company) and Kadıköy Tevhid-i Mübayaat ve İstihlâkat Şirketi (Kadıköy Consolidated Purchasing and Consumption Company) and includes the contract formally establishing the new firm. Participating bakeries are grouped under four classes, and the first establishment listed under secondclass bakeries is Dimitri Efendi’s “Ayazma Fırını” on Eski İskele Avenue in Kadıköy. The Türk Ticaret Salnamesi (Turkish Commercial Yearbook) for 1924 also mentioned a bakery at Ayazma in Kadıköy.

The 1930s were a time of significant change for the Stoyanof family. They first became partners at the Cumhuriyet Bakery, where they manufactured such pastries as yağlı simit (dough rings with shortening), poğaça, and anasonlu gevrek (anise crackers) rather than bread. Produced with family labor, these pastries allowed the Stoyanofs to purchase several wooden buildings in the Kadıköy market during the worst days of the world economic crisis. Most importantly, it gave them the courage to participate in the tender for the snack bar in the port by the Haydarpaşa Train Station. Yet, winning the tender brought no happiness to the family: In 1935, having won it for the third time, Dimitri was assaulted and murdered.

Following the death of Dimitri Stoyanof, his sons Dino, Lambo, and George took over the business. They were determined to keep the bakery where it was. Indeed, an insurance map for Kadıköy prepared in 1938 shows a bakery at the location where Beyaz Fırın now stands. Besides the bakery at No. 37, its firewood depot behind the İskele Mosque also appears on the map.

During the 1940s, Beyaz Fırın faced some new crises. Whether neutral or not, all countries of the world suffered severe shortages during World War II, and that was certainly true of Turkey too. The principal raw materials used by the Stoyanofs were now rationed. Flour, salt, and shortening were available in limited quantities on the black market, and George Stoyanof managed to keep his enterprise going by selling almond cookies baked with eggs, hazelnuts, and almonds.

New rules were laid down in the 1950s, regulating the contents and prices of products sold by pastry shops. This imposed especially dire financial hardships on those establishments, like Beyaz Fırın, that made a point of using high-quality ingredients. Moreover, strict controls were put in place and inspections of workplaces were common.

Having taken over the firm from his father, Dimitri (“Mitko”) Stoyanof was to face new hardships during the 1980s. Beyaz Fırın found a compromise solution to this problem: inventing new products that were not governed by the new regulations. The famous kıymalı dolma and patates sarması sold by Beyaz Fırın were born of this difficult period. They became extremely popular, however, and were among the best selling products at Beyaz Fırın throughout the politically chaotic 1980s.

Over a century of doing business, the Stoyanofs had become well-known in İstanbul, and news concerning births, deaths, and marriages in the family often appeared in the daily press. From the end of the 1990s on, however, Beyaz Fırın received even greater coverage in the media after Nathalie Stoyanof Suda, the daughter of Mitko Stoyanof, joined the firm. Having studied Business Administration in Turkey, Nathalie decided to add new dimensions to the family business and went to the famous culinary school Le Cordon Bleu. Upon her return, she aimed to combine the traditional tastes and natural products prepared by her family with a more universal style of presentation..

Through the efforts of Nathalie Stoyanof Suda, Beyaz Fırın was virtually rediscovered by İstanbul dwellers. The press labeled her arrival “new cream on old cakes” and followed her progress closely, all this attention helping Beyaz Fırın grow considerably.15 With this fifth generation in the baking and pastry business, a new and wholely natural brand of chocolate was added to the firm’s product range: Chez Nathalie. Other innovations followed, including special cakes for Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day, and Fathers’ Day. In 2007, Beyaz Fırın attracted a lot of interest with theme cakes based upon textiles, movies, and stories.

Its rich and developing product range aside, Beyaz Fırın is also noteworthy as a flourishing enterprise. With five branches at Kadıköy, Çiftehavuzlar, Suadiye, Erenköy, Ataşehir and Akasya Mall, all on the Asian side of the city, Beyaz Fırın is getting ready to take some steps on the European side during 2015. Nevertheless, it is not its annual sales nor the number of its branches that makes Beyaz Fırın one of the enterprises that adds charm to İstanbul; it is the fact that members of one and the same family have carried on a tradition of delicious taste for so long, and that the people of İstanbul have loved them for it.

Contact

Yasa Cad. No:23 Kadıköy/Istanbul
P: +90 216 349 13 13
www.beyazfirin.com
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