Mehmet Teker, 35 years old, hometown — Antalya, chef at Aksam restaurant in Rixos President Astana
I came to Astana about a year ago. Rixos hotel chain decided to open a Turkish restaurant in Astana Rixos. To successfully launch the project, I was chosen from all working chefs in Turkey and assigned the mission to open a good restaurant here.
When I first came here, I was worried about the weather, because I always lived in warm places and faced such cold for the first time. These worries lasted half an hour because the fear passed when we drove into the city. Because we drove into a surprisingly beautiful city where the cold was not a big obstacle.
Since I came here, I haven't had many days off, because I'm fully into my work. So I didn't have a chance to explore the city. I have only one day off a week, and most of the time I visit different restaurants, look and try each kitchen to improve the dishes and serving in my restaurant.
When I was offered a job in another country, I began to look for information about this place, watched different channels on YouTube and approximately imagined Astana. If we compare the city communications, I like how the rules of the road are arranged here, how drivers behave on the roads. Turkey has problems due to the lack of a good road system, drivers do not pay attention to pedestrians but here people are more attentive and constantly pass pedestrians.
I do not use public transport, because I live close to work, but I think the advantage is allocated bus lines. Also, good that here forbidden to drink alcohol on the streets.
I noticed that the percentage of female drivers in Astana much higher than ours. In Turkey, on the roads, drivers try to avoid women driving because of a possible accident but here women, despite the weather conditions and road inconveniences, confidently drive cars, I like it.
I like the hospitality of Kazakhs. My friends, who have been working here for eight months, also praise the local hospitality. I am impressed that the people with whom I work, heartily want to help and always friendly. In addition, the Kazakhs are Turkic-speaking, Muslim people, what also make us closer.
About the new workplace
I have never been to Kazakhstan, but Rixos has branches in most of the world, so I got news and information about Rixos in Kazakhstan. When I learned we will go here, we, as chefs, immediately began to learn whether the Kazakhs like Turkish food, how the Kazakhs perceive our national cuisine and the results of the research have shown it is in demand, local people love it.
We put our heart and love into cooking, try to use and look for creative, non-standard approaches to serving dishes. Over 25 years of my career, I have always worked with love. I graduated from specialized universities in Turkey, but it means nothing if you work without soul and love. When I recruited people in Turkey, I personally asked and tested candidates, as it is important for me. We took those who had light in the eyes, who wanted to work and cook with us. I also based on the principle of the best: in case of baklava, I chose the best cook in cooking baklava from the region where it appeared, so that the chef had his father's heritage; if kebab, then I chose the best cook from the region where kebab was born.
So, I came with a team of four chefs, and here we have chosen five more people. Together we opened the restaurant Aksam, aimed at meat dishes. As in all projects at the initial stage we faced difficulties in the supply of equipment, the language barrier, but then everything figured out and we understood each other and started working.
The only fear of opening a Turkish restaurant is we could not find identical products in taste and colour for our products in Turkey. Fortunately, the person with whom we work here was able to find everything and even things that we could not find in Turkey. Kazakhstan is a country with high meat consumption, the quality of your lamb by taste criteria and in cooking is much higher than ours. For all years of professional experience, I have not cooked lamb meat better than here.
The dishes we cook in Astana, we do better than in Turkey. Over the 73 days since the opening of the restaurant, we had no bad reviews.
The food we serve here represents seven Turkish regions. In Turkey, many dishes have been transformed from the original recipes and in the restaurant Aksam, we prepare dishes only according to the original, unchanged recipes, as it was in ancient times. Therefore, the dishes are delicious.
When we have a guest, we firstly bring an assortment of snacks on the cart. If the menu is not clear enough, a guest can look at the dishes, try, the waiter will show and tell all the details and ingredients. We also have a bakery where we bake hotcakes served with butter.
When I cook baklava, lahmacun, kebabs or other snacks, I think who will be able to cook as well as we do. I am proud of my team and the fact that we cook the best Turkish dishes.
The article made with the support of Rixos President Astana and Aksam restaurant.