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.”