Meet The Chef Bringing Turkish-Cypriot Fusion Food To Trendy London

SELIN KIAZIM‘s EXOTIC DISHES at her Shoreditch restaurant OKLAVA are influenced by her Turkish Cypriot parents and summers spent on her grandparents’ farm in CYPRUS

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On becoming a chef …

I studied a professional chefs diploma at Westminster Kingsway college for three years and straight from there went to work for Peter Gordon at The Providores. My career was spent working for Peter between The Providores and then Kopapa. After Kopapa I went on to do my own pop-ups. Food has always been my passion, I was scared to get into it because of the image of the industry but in the end I caved and have never looked back! I set myself a goal of opening my own restaurant before the age of 30. I wanted to work for myself and be able to put my exact vision in place, I believed in it and myself.

On growing up with food …

I remember lots of family barbecues with a Cypriot kebab called Seftali, which is always on my menu. I worked long and hard on the recipe to make it the best I could. My philosophy here is if I am going to do a traditional dish then I make it the best version I can. Cypriot and Turkish foods are very similar, Cypriot cooking is lighter and fresher whereas food from Turkey is a little richer and uses more spices, nuts and dried fruits. At Oklava I am inspired by my Cypriot heritage but also use a lot of influence from Turkey, the middle-east and Meditteranean.

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On an open kitchen …

I love sitting at a bar and eating myself and I think a lot of other people do too. I think it’s interesting to see the action unfold in front of you. Plus, having worked in a basement for years I really didn’t want that for my own place, I wanted to see daylight!

On her Oklava favourites …

It’s hard to choose a favourite really, but if I had to pick I would say the Baked Lamb Fat Potatoes, Fried Duck Egg, Hellim and Sherry Vinegar Caramel. It’s inspired by a simple dish my Mum used to cook of sautéed potatoes with diced lamb and sometimes she would crack an egg into it.

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On local ingredients …

I try to use local where I can, really it is about using the best of what is in season as that is when it tastes best. But, I do use a lot of ingredients from further afield too in order to create the flavours of the eastern mediterranean.

On Meatopia x Guinness …

I’m really looking forward to visiting Dublin and feeding the general public, I have never been before. Hopefully I get a little time to wander about but I doubt it… I’m really excited about my dish as it totally encompasses my food but has just a little Irish magic too!

Selin Kiazim will be cooking at Guinness X Meatopia this weekend, Saturday July 1 and Sunday July 2. Saturday tickets are now sold out, but some Sunday tickets are still available at www.guinnessopengate.com. #Guinness #MeatopiaUK.

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