On a sunny September afternoon, we caught up with our new Head Pastry Chef, Ahmet. Born into a Turkish-Cypriot household, Ahmet has strong Mediterranean roots, with hospitality being a natural quality which has only grown since working in the culinary profession. From a young age, Ahmet explains that cooking and food have been great passions of his, with his grandfather being his main influence. He recalls a time as a child when his grandfather asked if he wanted to cook something. With great curiosity, Ahmet followed his grandfather into the kitchen, where he proceeded to watch, wide-eyed, as the dish was prepared in front of him. Since then, he created recipes of his own and dreamed of one day owning his own restaurant.
Fast forward several years and Ahmet was working at The Savoy in London, where he learnt from Martin Chiffers, Dale DeSimone, Chris Seddon as well as his mentor, Slawomir Sowa, who gave him “good grounding”. Ahmet’s experience at The Savoy also taught him to be prepared for every eventuality, always expect the unexpected and that in hospitality we are turning moments into memories. He then moved on to work at Sketch Restaurant, followed by the Shangri-La Hotel under the meticulous Nick Patterson.
Ahmet joined us only recently as the new Head Pastry Chef, but he’s already got great ambition and ideas. He hopes to create an afternoon tea that rivals some of the best in London: “Why should you have to venture into the city to experience a luxury afternoon tea, when we’ve got a fantastic location here on the banks of the River Thames?”
We couldn’t agree more. When we ask about his new role, he replies: “It was a big step moving out of London, but it felt right. Taking on the role at The Runnymede is the pinnacle of my career so far. Everyone has been so welcoming and it’s definitely a lovely environment to see more greenery than the ever increasing sky scrapers of London.”
Finally, we asked Ahmet – who would be his dream dinner guests?
“Firstly, I’d invite Arsène Wenger and Professor Devi Sridhar for the intellectual conversation, then, I’d have Mohammed Ali for his wisdom. I’d definitely invite Robin Williams and Gene Wilder for the humour and jokes, The Rock for security and then…James Gandolfini – because who wouldn’t want to cook for Tony Soprano?!”