Welcome to the second post in our ‘In the Kitchen With…’ series, where we invite some of our favourite foodies over to our blog to answer seven questions about cooking, their influences and more. For this edition, we’ve rolled out the red carpet for Somer Sivrioglu, the chef behind Efendy Restaurant in Balmain, Sydney.
Somer was born and raised in Istanbul, where his passion for food was influenced by his mother, a chef and restaurateur. He arrived in Sydney in 1995, aged 25, bringing with him a love of urban Turkish cuisine and culture, as well as a culinary vision he was determined to make a reality. Twenty years later, Efendy is going from strength to strength, and Somer’s first cookbook, Anatolia (more stock due soon!) was released last year.
Earlier this year, Somer came to Peter’s to Peter’s for a Turkish Meze session. You can see some of the pictures from Somer’s visit at the top of this post, or click here to watch our video from the day.
We won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here are Somer’s answers to our seven sizzling questions…
How would you describe your cooking style?
It’s a combination of traditional Turkish techniques with contemporary presentation, using the best of our bountiful produce in Sydney.
Tell us a little about how you first fell in love with cooking…
I spent a lot of time with my grandma when I was a kid and she taught me the importance of home style, honest cooking that brings the whole family together. She was one of the first women completing TAFE-style education in the newly established Turkish Republic,learning about commercial cooking and home economics and her love of cooking affected me dearly.
What recipe or meal means the most to you?
Again, her famous Karniyarik, split belly eggplant dish is my most prized recipe. Also, Hunkar Begendi as it’s the first meal I cooked for the love of my life, my wife Asli.
What’s the one thing in your kitchen you couldn’t live without?
My Zirh, a giant Turkish knife/mezzaluna used to chop all the kebaps and a smaller one to chop salads.
When you’re not in the kitchen, what other things do you enjoy?
Spending rare time with my two kids, Deniz, 10 and Derin, 8.
What’s been the highlight of your cooking career so far?
Publishing my first cookbook, Anatolia with David Dale last year.
If you were hosting dinner and could invite any three people, living or dead, over for a meal, who would you invite…and, most importantly, what would you cook?
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, Nazim Hikmet, my favourite poet and Selahattin Pinar, my favourite classical Turkish music composer. I would prepare the best meze table for them from all around Turkey like bonito lakerda from Black Sea, topik, feta from Edirne, melon from Kirkagac and liver from Edirne with a bottle of finest Raki from Tekirdag.