Marhaba interviews 28-year-old Turkish chef Yunus Yilmaz, the head chef of Nusr-Et Steakhouse, who was sent to Qatar by Nusret aka ‘Salt Bae’ himself to provide unique options to Doha’s meat lovers.
Nusr-Et Steakhouse opened its doors in 2010. The restaurant quickly became one of the top quality steakhouses due to the success of Turkish chef and restaurateur, Nusret Gökçe, also known as Salt Bae. His art of cooking and preparing meat became an internet sensation. He is a trained butcher and chef.
Nusr-Et Steakhouse has many branches around the world and widespread in the Middle East – Istanbul Etiler, Istanbul Sandal Bedesteni, Ankara Kavaklıdere, D-Hotel Maris, Bodrum Yalıkavak Marina, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Miami and New York.
Making Nusr-Et Steakhouse at Sheraton Grand Doha a little more sizzling and salty is Head Chef Yunus Yilmaz. He talks to Marhaba about his passion for food, working with Nusret and making his own unique culinary style.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in 1990 in Turkey, I started in the F&B sector when I was 13 years old to help the chef in a local small restaurant. Then I studied culinary arts in Anatolian Hotel Management and Tourism Vocational High School, however, I kept working as a part-time help-chef in various places. When I was 18, I got accepted into Adnan Menderes University, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department. I worked in many sections in 5-star hotels between 2006-2012. In 2012, my Nusr-Et story started in Nusr-Et Etiler in Istanbulthen Nusr-Et Marmaris, Nusr-Et Dubai, and now Nusr-Et Doha !
What intrigued you to join Nusr-Et Doha?
I knew that people in Qatar love eating high quality, well-prepared meat and Nusr-et has the best meat in the world. It was always a pleasure for me to serve guests who can appreciate real quality.
How has Nusret aka ‘Salt Bae’ himself influenced or inspired your cooking profession?
Chef Nusret is a very hardworking, energetic and positive person. The way he cuts, handles and cooks the meat can motive everyone. His passion for meat is very inspiring. I can say he is not only a boss to me, he is more like a teacher, a leader, a real role model for all of us.
What is it like to work as a chef at an internationally renowned restaurant like Nusr-Et? Is there pressure as head chef in the restaurant of the internet popular Nusret?
It is glorious. However, I feel the pressure that I represent a worldwide known brand. My team and I should serve perfect dishes all the time. There is no chance to make any mistake. If you do, 13 million people can see an unpleasant comment in minutes thanks to the internet.
What unique options should Doha meat lovers expect from Nusr-Et?
Nusr-Et has become the first and only address of meat lovers starting from the first day, is still the leader in the sector with delicious meat , unique service and boutique concept. Doha meat lovers should expect unique culinary experience with live shows while they dine at Nusr-Et restaurant.
Where does your love for meat stem from?
I have been a meat lover since my childhood. Then I met a meat professional who is admired by everyone and started to work with him. So we should not look too far to find the answer. If your idol loves something, you will do as well.
Why do you think that people in the Middle East are such big meat lovers?
This was one of my exam questions when I was in college. I researched a lot, indeed. I think it is about the culture. They have tasted various types of meat in many different styles, since they have a very deep-rooted history. They have a real palate for meat. That’s why they prefer to come Nusr-et to find the best meat in the best restaurant.
What are your thoughts on the current food industry? How much have steakhouses changed in recent years?
F&B is like technology, trends change all the time. Now everyone knows that, you need to find a signature, something special and unique to appeal to people. You need to serve not only the best dishes but also entertainment to please guests. Usually, chefs make their menus having regard to seasons and places. However, all Nusr-et menus, all over the world, is standard, the quality is timeless.
How important is social media to running a restaurant?
People can share their most natural and real experiences and moments freely with other people thanks to social media. That’s why people can relay information like what is new in town, how their experience was, which dish is worth a try, etc. Actually, we can say now people on social media make your advertisement. If someone likes your specific dish and writes good comments about it, people become more curious. Then the restaurant attracts more people.
For more information or to make a booking at Nusr-Et Steakhouse, call 4442 9339.
Author: Ola Diab; Photographs by Andrea Buenafe
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