Cookery student hosts A Taste of Türkiye fundraising night to help victims of earthquake

Cookery student hosts A Taste of Türkiye fundraising night to help victims of earthquake

A Taste of Türkiye fundraising evening organised and run by New City College student chef Fatma Nguyen was a resounding success – raising over £2,000 – with all proceeds going to help victims of the Turkey-Syria Earthquakes.

Fatma, a mature student who is studying the Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cookery for adults at NCC Hackney campus, created the delicious menu and took the role of head chef on the night, instructing and guiding the other student cooks with expert techniques and tips.

Held at OKN1 Restaurant in Hoxton, the training kitchen for New City College Hospitality and Catering students, the evening was sold out and provided guests with a fine dining experience – a three-course menu of authentic, fresh and imaginative Turkish-Arabic cuisine.

Fatma said: “It was an absolutely brilliant night! The restaurant was packed out and buzzing. The atmosphere was great with friends, family and other guests who came to support me, and most importantly the cause.

“My friends and family were so incredibly proud of me, especially my children who have always said that I should own my own restaurant! This whole experience was such an eye-opener for me and I really enjoyed it – even more so that we made so much money for the earthquake victims.”

Fatma added: “The inspiration for my night was always going to be traditional Turkish food. Even though I was born in London, I feel extremely proud to be of mixed heritage, to have been nurtured and brought up on Turkish and Syrian food – my father is Turkish and my mother is Syrian!

“Being from these dual backgrounds played a massive role influencing the dishes chosen for my menu. I infused the dishes so they were Turkish but also had a Syrian influence with some of the spices and flavours. Syrian dishes are more spicy than Turkish, and who doesn’t like a bit of spice!

“As I was planning the evening the devastating earthquake happened in both countries and this had a huge impact, not just on myself and my family, but on the world as a whole.

“I felt helpless during this terrible time and wanted to do something for the people who were suffering, so I decided to turn my Taste of Türkiye evening into a fundraiser for the Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal via the DEC (Disaster Emergency Committee).

“My fellow chefs who helped to cook on the day were really supportive, for which I am truly grateful. During prep and on the actual night, it was hard work, as it was a very complex menu, and the first time that my fellow chefs had attempted Turkish cuisine! But thankfully they did my dishes proud and they picked up the authentic techniques very well.”

Sous chef, fellow class member and friend Adetayo Abimbola said: “Fatma was so supportive with all of us, every step of the way. She was so patient in making sure we got the details right for the menu – a brilliant mentor. I loved the evening and it was great to raise money for such a worthy cause. I love this course and what it enables us to do and the facilities are amazing.”

Fatma’s food included Karnı Yarık (stuffed eggplants) which literally means split stomach as the belly of the aubergines are slit and stuffed with a minced beef/lamb filling with a tasty tomato sauce; she cooked Sarma, which are grape vine leaves filled with rice and hand rolled to the exact size of a little finger. There was also Chicken and Orzo Pasta Soup, İskender – one of the most popular dishes of Turkey – and she made a milky version of Baklava, which is currently very popular.

Fatma said: “I have never cooked anything professionally before – I’ve just always enjoyed cooking at home. I love to feed people and look after them. All the dishes were specifically chosen, as they were in honour of my parents and many were my children’s favourite dishes.

“I have been helping chop vegetables in the family kitchen since I was a child and now to be running a service in a restaurant, it’s a big deal for me!

“Initially I was only looking into the one day food health and safety course but I came across the Professional Cookery course at New City College Redbridge, where my son was enrolled at the time, and I then also decided to sign up. 

“I fell in love with the course and completed the Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery. I was also given the opportunity to do a Barista course and passed with Distinction!

“I’m so glad I decided to continue my studies and enrol on the Level 3 Professional Cookery at Hackney campus, as this is where I was born, raised and lived all my life. It has given me so many opportunities.

“I’ve done so many jobs in the past but studying this course has given me a purpose and has enabled me to develop my passion for cooking. My family are so proud of me for what I have achieved as an older student.” 


OKN1 Hoxton is a professional restaurant which puts training, community and creativity first. The collaborative kitchen of trainee chefs and professional chefs proudly serves dishes inspired by local surroundings, culture and the seasons.

The restaurant is at 40 Hoxton Street, Hackney N1 6LR. To book a table go to the OKN1 website:

A Taste of Turkey fundraising evening organised by New City College student chef Fatma Nguyen was a success – raising over £1,000 for victims of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes.

Other fundraising for the Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal has taken place across New City College.

Attlee A Level Academy

A Level, GCSE and 14-16 cohort students at NCC’s campus in Arbour Square organised an event in support of the victims of the earthquakes, raising an incredible £859.72 which will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal.

The students sold cakes, sweets and other food items, made Mother’s Day and Women’s Day cards, paper flowers, badges, portraits and ran a henna and nail bar.

Attlee Group Curriculum Director Sulliman Peerbacos said: “A massive thank you to all the staff and students who took part and donated so generously. This was a fantastic effort to help those in need.”

Epping Forest campus

At our Epping Forest campus, ESOL students and staff teamed up with local store Gail’s Bakery in Loughton for a cake sale which raised over £100.

Organised by ESOL tutor Fatma Buldu, the cake sale was a way for students to contribute something towards the appeal.

Sonja Smith, Senior Curriculum Manager for ESOL, said: “We really appreciated the collaboration with Gail’s and their donation to our event – we couldn’t have done it without their amazing cakes and pastries. We are keen to link up with them and other local businesses for future events. This was a great opportunity to showcase what we do at Epping Forest campus for the wider community.”