As an unwanted child at the age of seven, Huseyin Ozer tried to make a new life for his future. From a lonely boy, he became a worldwide leading Turkish chef in London. How can an immigrant homeless boy transform his life?
Huseyin Ozer is a Turkish-British executive chef and entrepreneur living in London with his wife. After a very hard life, he still can’t believe what he has achieved. Born in a Turkish village to a very poor family, at seven years old he realized he was an unwanted child. When he was around six, his older brother tried to poison him, wanting him dead. As a child, he never understood what was going on in his family, but then his father told him. His family didn’t want him anymore and he became a disowned child in Turkey.
“I slept in public toilets in Istanbul. I was a homeless child, without money until I found a job. I was useless and lost in my own country,” he said, with tears in his eyes. Ozer soon realised there was no chance for him in his home country, and he decided to go to London by bus. He had no money for a plane ticket. He found a job in a Kebab shop and started to learn English. But he did something extraordinary with the foods he was cooking; he created healthy Turkish food, with reasonable price. After a while, British Ambassadors even came to eat his food in a restaurant. England was beginning to take notice of his healthy food revolution and Ozer finally fit in and was wanted. He bought several restaurants in Covent Garden and Oxford Street naming them Sofra and Ozer. He says, “Our restaurants have been the very first, and only Turkish restaurants recommended by the Michelin Guide.
He says, “We are not only serving our food, taking people’s money and then going back to our homes. We are teaching a way of life in our restaurants. Even when our employees leave us, they always leave gratefully.” Ozer’s restaurants are partnered with Middlesex University in London to help young entrepreneurs and students to be able to understand the food industry. Ozer gives lectures at the university on restaurant management, customer service, as well as cooking skills.
Huseyin Ozer; “It is not a typical lecture at the university that students are only taking notes from and listening to guest speakers. This is a new way of teaching: how to manage a restaurant with your own skills, from cooking to serving, menu preparation, how to run a restaurant and also being aware of your local customer profile. We are teaching a real lesson to Middlesex University students.”
The Star Network at the World Food Awards honoured Huseyin Ozer with the Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2011. This was the first time Ozer was recognized by worldwide societies as a leading chef in Britain. Also, Ozer received the honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Westminster.
Homeless to millionaire restauranteur:
His book ‘Sofra Cookbook: Modern Turkish & Middle Eastern Cookery by Huseyin Ozer’ was also published in 2001 in London, UK. Huseyin Ozer became one of the most recognizable Turkish people in London and now he claims that, “home is, where the heart is.”
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