Huseyin Ozturk Executive Sous Chef at Downtown Rotana talks heritage cooking and local ingredients.
You’ve spoken of using local and seasonal products – how do you achieve this in Bahrain? Does the hotel have a farm partnership?
Before I came to the country, I researched the history of Bahrain and the people who farmed here. Although it is a small country, people like to farm vegetables and fish. The farmers’ market, which is set up on Saturdays, is a place where you can find all local products. I have visited the local market and have added all the local food items to my menu. Even though we have a farm agreement, I am happy to buy it from the local farmers in its most natural form.
Who are your kitchen inspirations?
Cooking is an ancestral profession for me. My grandfather, who has been a chef for more than 40 years, always invited me to the kitchen from a young age and had me taste the flavours of the dishes he made. As a chef, he was well travelled and worked in different countries and that helped him perfect his craft. He not only gave me his name, I also inherited his profession. He has always been my source of inspiration.
I always strive to create tomorrow’s kitchen with old and innovative methods that combine traditional and truly ‘genuine’ herbs and spices.
What are three ingredients that are always in your kitchen and why?
Having travelled to 18 countries and considering the different tastes and cultural diversity I experienced in each country, each of my top flavours has a history, and I love to innovatively blend them all. Homemade butter, lamb tail fat, and Hatay pepper paste are indispensable in my kitchen. These are all cultural flavours and the basic product of the flavours I blend.
What is your signature dish and what makes it so popular?
My signature dish is the ‘Sea Flavours and Citrus’. My inspiration started at a very young age when I worked at a fish restaurant. What makes the dish stand out is that its unique taste gives the palate an experience of the adventure that the fish has been through and the relief of the ocean. I not only love the taste of fish, I am also passionate about sea creatures and enjoy watching related documentaries. ✤