Monday 24 August 2020



We're beyond excited and honoured to welcome Coskun Uysal, owner and head chef of Tulum, into the fold as a Scarf Ambassador. Get to know him in this Q & A.

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Scarf: What (or who) inspired you to become a chef?

Coskun: At first, I wanted to be a professional footballer and play in Turkey’s Premier League, but after playing semi-professionally, I realised that I wasn’t going to make it. So I looked for another dream. And it was to be a chef. Like many chefs, my mother was my first and greatest role model, and being a shy boy, I spent hours in our family kitchen in Istanbul, watching her prepare three meals a day before heading off to do her other jobs to support our family. She taught me to love and use the freshest produce every day, especially vegetables. 

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To this day, I owe to my mother’s inspiration the amazing journey I have had: from a boy in her kitchen, study at Andalou University in Hospitality Management, the Leith School in London, working for Jamie Oliver and the River Cafe, becoming an Executive Chef for The House Cafe’s group of ten restaurants in Istanbul, my journey to Melbourne, opening my restaurant, Tulum, being recognised by my peers around Australia and beyond, and then producing my book Tulum, which celebrates my background, journey and the recipes I have wanted to share.

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Why did you become a Scarf Ambassador?

Saying “Yes” to being a Scarf Ambassador was easy. If I can assist, mentor and offer training opportunities to young people from a migrant and refugee background, then I feel I can begin to pay back what I owe to this country.

What message do you have for young people who have come to Australia as a refugee or migrant?

As a newly minted “Aussie”, I know what it’s like to start life in a very different culture. Of course, I was lucky to have the support of my partner Peter, but I’ve learned that Australians will always accept you – especially when they’re convinced that you’re “having a go”. By starting a business, and providing jobs for others, you earn Australians’ respect. Of course, you need your family and your friends and learning a new language and adapting to a different culture is never easy, but if you try, people here will always support you.

Tell us about your greatest achievements?

My greatest achievements have been successfully opening my restaurant, Tulum, and in a sophisticated food culture such as Melbourne’s, change perceptions about Turkish food, and give my diners the experience of classical, usually Anatolian recipes, innovatively re-interpreted with contemporary techniques.

Opening my restaurant and making it a success lead to my book, Tulum, which gives everyone the chance to see what modern Turkish cuisine can look like. It’s partly about my journey, and partly an invitation to everyone interested in food, to try my recipes, and above all, to have some fun experimenting with and enjoying a different cuisine.

 

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Find out more about Coskun in his Scarf Ambassador biography.