I came to U.S about 12 years ago. I am originally from Turkey. I have Culinary science. But, when I graduate from Culinary school I have joined to the Hospitality Management Collage to get my degree. When I gradated from the college, where I was sitting was not big enough for me. So, I have decided to take a challenge and came to Florida with not knowing word of English. But, I was lucky enough to join an internship program.
First I have started as a prep cook. But, it wasn’t easy to communicate with people because I didn’t know how to speak English, I though myself how to speak to language by reading and writing. It took me while to understand everything but in the mean time, I was working as a prep cook and making cold sandwiches and salads in small town Stuart in north of Florida.
But, being a prep cook was not so exciting for me and I was eager to learn more. A few months later, I asked my chef if I could just spend extra time in the main kitchen after my worked hours. He looked at me and said, “Are you crazy? Go live your life.” But, this is exactly what I wanted. To be in the kitchen to learn more.
So then, I was moved to the main kitchen to start doing actual production other than just making cold sandwiches. It was so inspiring for me to learn so many new technique and product that I have never seen before. Working in this hotel showed that me how great feeling is being recognized.
After I complete my internship, I have decided to stay in Florida and moved to Naples and took my first line cook job at the Hilton Hotel. I was so excited to work with different background of people. I worked as a line cook for about 2 years.
As I cannot fit in one box, I had to go out and seek for more challenges. Then, I joined the Marriott team in Fort Lauderdale Harbor Beach Marriott. This place was the turning corner for me. I was part of the opening Sea-level Restaurant team and it was a very unique experience for me. After restaurant was set, I was promoted to a Kitchen Supervisor. And, it was my very first junior leader position. I have done so many events and cooked with so many respected chefs. Of course, working with them taught me to a kind of Chef I want to be.
Being a female chef in this industry is not easy at all. I always had to work twice more than any other male chefs to show them how strong I can be and it was always a competition.
After supervising my very first crew, I took my first Sous Chef position. When I got my Sous Chef position, I was very nervous because I felt like I don’t know what to do. And, this was a very big accomplishment for me.
After I moved on with my fears, I have decided to take another challenge, I looked for a big change and experience something that I never had. I took another Sous Chef job at Phoenix, AZ.
I was lucky enough that my husband always supported me with all my decisions and he always followed me wherever I go with no hesitation. When I moved to Arizona, I didn’t know that I was pregnant. 🙂 When I realized that I was pregnant, I was in tears with fear. It was something that I was definitely not ready for it.
Being pregnant and reopening a restaurant and working 12 to 14 hours a day was not easy at all but, I learned to have fun with it.
After having my baby girl and I thought that moving back to Florida would be good for me and my family. So, I took another Sous Chef position and moved to Miami.
Moving to Miami was turning another corner for me. I have joined Miami Beach Edition opening team and had a pleasure to work with Jean-Georges team. It was a lot of sweat and tears during the opening but at the time, I was very proud and happy. After opening of the Edition Hotel, I was promoted to be an Executive Sous Chef and lead over 120+ employees and worked with so many great talented chefs and be part of too many amazing events.
I love working with Jean-Georges team. Seeing all the uncommon product coming together and creating amazing flavors mesmerize me.
Now I am a mother, a wife and a Chef. I know that there are more challenges waiting for me. And, I am always ready to take on.
It is not easy to be a female Chef and working with too many men. My biggest struggle was learning the culture and the language.
Awards & Press
- James Beard Award