In 2016, we opened Rüya, Dubai’s first contemporary Anatolian restaurant, at the Grosvenor House Hotel. I’ve been involved in this project from when it was just an idea inspired by a visit to Q’bara, where I used to work, when my current business partner, Umut Özkanca and his father, Rasim, a Turkish restaurateur, came for dinner. They ended up ordering everything on the menu and wanted me to do for Turkish food what I had done for Arabian cuisine.
We went on a mission, travelling the length and breadth of Turkey tasting. The flavours of Anatolian cuisine are amazing and there’s nothing on our menu that’s not recognisably Turkish, but what we’ve done is modernise and twist a little, as well as giving a different perspective on presentation.
Take a foreign chef and teach them the principles of this cuisine and you’ll get something that’s a little out of the box, as they won’t be influenced by what has come before, but they can work with the ingredients and the flavours that are key to the dishes.
Somebody once said: “Never stop learning, your brain will never be full.” Turkish cuisine has a 3,000-year history and is geographically diverse. I could do this for the rest of my life and still be learning something new.