Istanbul has been the bridge between East and  West for ages. Unfortunately, as a result of its strategic position, the city has more than once served as a battleground. At the same time, it’s proven to be the ultimate bazaar for trading, a world marketplace for spices and specialities.

Appropriately, the city serves as headquarters for the Altinmarka Group. As this year’s recipient for the 2012 European Candy Kettle Club (ECKC) Award, Birol Altinkilic, chairman of the Altinmarka Group, provided ECKC  members and guests an opportunity to not only visit the company’s cocoa  and chocolate processing facilities, but expose them to the grandeur and graciousness that abide in this crossroads city.

Be it a morning reception at the company’s plant — complete with lounge sofas, music and refreshments outdoors, a gourmet lunch at the company’s Baylan restaurant, or a spectacular gala dinner at the Ciragan Kempinski Palace Hotel, there was no end to the hospitality.

 Having modestly started a cocoa processing company 20 years ago, Altinkilic has — in short order — created a vertically integrated coca- and chocolate-centric organization second to none. His pride in receiving the award dovetailed with his warmth and welcome for the confectionery guests in attendance.