Zonguldak, Black Sea in Turkey.
At age 16, I was a kitchen hand in a 5 star hotel in Turkey, then post military service, I moved to Istanbul and worked at the famous Greek restaurant Zarifi. I became the Sous Chef and moved to the highly respected French restaurant Park Samdan. After, I worked at the famous nightclub Reina.
I moved to Australia in 2009 to look for new challenges. I worked in Newcastle at various places, including introducing Turkish food to Newcastle at Lass O' Gowrie. I went back to study and chased a great opportunity to work at Four in Hand with Colin Fassnidge. I worked there for 3 years. Seduced by Melbourne, I was offered the job of Head Chef at Tulum. After 10 months there, I decided to open my own restaurant and really follow my culinary aspirations and share them with others. Here comes Yagiz, named after my grandfather.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
I run away from school and got the first job I could, and it happened to be in a first class hotel. I started helping in the kitchen but I knew then that I liked cooking and giving pleasure to people while they are sitting together. The more I cooked, the more I loved it! It is very exciting for me to have my own restaurant.
How would you define your style?
My food is of course influenced by Turkish cuisine, but I give it my own twist. It is modern. It is fine, but with no fuss.
Obsessive Compulsive About?
A spotless kitchen. Good team work ethics in the kitchen, and of course, the best and the freshest ingredients.
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
Definitely Colin Fassnidge (My Kitchen Rules). He is a great Chef – and a great man. Working with Colin at Four In Hand was definitely the best kitchen I worked in and my best experience. Everything was right. Attitude, work pressure, cooking techniques. I'll never forget Colin's parting words: "Just keep it simple." His thoughts have never left me and I cannot wait to show Colin Yagiz when he comes down to Melbourne next.
Most "eyebrow raising” menu item?
I have a few but I'll follow my customers' opinions and I'll pick the calamari stuffed with ezine cheese served on farro and ink.
I love cooking lamb. My guests can order a whole lamb (for 8 to 10 people). Liver, loin, tartare, shoulder. I get the best lamb in Australia. The Bultarra Australian Saltbush Lamb is just amazing. The lamb is grazed on the unique Saltbush based pastures in the "pristine natural environment of the Australian outback."
A tantalising fusion of Turkish cuisine comes together at Yagiz on Toorak Road in South Yarra. This unpretentious restaurant adopts a philosophy of fine food without fuss, served in casually elegant surrounds dominated by a painting of Mr Yagiz (the Chef’s grandfather) on the wall and a contemporary fit out of distressed brick and authentic Turkish accents. With a menu split between a la carte and a six-course Chef's selection, choose from street snacks such as vine leaves stuffed with sardines and rice, or confit of duck cigars; before larger plates like roasted lamb rump, smoked cacik and crispy eggplant. With 24 hours’ notice, guests can feast on a whole roasted wild native bush lamb, with sides such as duck fat kipflers, or perhaps Brussel sprouts, dukkah and pomegranate molasses.