We are having a little rest.

After the partying tonight, we will take a little break.

The Bosphorus Brewing Company will be closed on the 1st January 2013. Open as usual from 11:00 2nd January 2013.

Real Character Stands Out

Today’s Zaman

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-301762-real-character-stands-out.html

Many expats initially come to Turkey on a fixed-term contract, working for international companies.

What can begin as a career move can then become a life changing one. This was the case for Phil Hall and his family, who moved here in 2006. Originally an agricultural engineer, he went into mechanical engineering and then the chemical industry. In Howden, Yorkshire, he and his wife, Jill, had a small business together, making petrochemical additives for the manufacturing industry before he became a director of an American chemical company, and it was this that brought him to Turkey.

Phil, Jill and their two sons Tristan and Callum packed up their lives and moved from a small market town in East Yorkshire to the outskirts of Istanbul, choosing Hadımköy as their new home for its proximity to the Istanbul International Community School and the city’s only small airfield, Hezarfen, where Phil indulges in one of his many passions: flying light aircraft. It was here where he met his current business partner, Sedat Zincirkıran, a fellow flying enthusiast, owner of an industrial catering company, Sardunya. The two became firm friends and when Phil’s two-year contract ended during the 2009 recession, they decided to find a way they could go into business together.

Seeing a gap in the market, they hit upon the idea of bringing the taste of traditional Britain to Turkey and opened the Bosphorus Brewing Company, a restaurant cum microbrewery. The tagline for the company is “Real Character Stands Out.” Whilst this is reference to the food and drink on offer, it is also the philosophy behind the company. Even when Phil was working in the chemical industry, he would hire employees based on the interests they listed on their CVs. Here he believes is where you can find out most about the suitability of a potential employee. “Not only does it show that they are an interesting character, but it also means that there is something to drive them to succeed, to enable them to spend more time and money doing things they love,” he told me.

A family business

I met with Phil from inside his latest venture. Formally a popular Sardunya restaurant, on Yildiz Posta Road in Gayrettepe, the family worked hard to strip the joint and redesign the place themselves. Enjoying a coffee together with the whole family on a quiet morning, you get the sense that this is a family business and that working to build this together has strengthened their family bonds. Callum was busy putting the finishing touches to the Christmas decorations when I arrived. He is 16 and still at school, so just helps out with odd jobs, along with chatting to the customers. The whole family excels at this and it is a crucial part of the roles they play.

Speaking with the same eloquence and gentle Yorkshire accent as his father, Callum told me he wants to work in transport design and architecture when he’s older. His older brother chipped in to point out that in working on the 3D designs for the layout of the restaurant, he learned the skills necessary to use the software that will be essential in this profession. Tristan, too, has learnt a lot. Now aged 19, his mum proudly tells me: “He’s become a practical chap. We designed and installed the equipment ourselves along with a large part of the structural design work and the majority of more complicated electrical installation work. Along the way he’s learned about electrics, construction and of course brewing.” Not only that, but his Turkish skills have gone from getting by with just the basics to becoming nearly fluent, often translating for his father when negotiating with the builders.

I asked Tristan how he found the move to Turkey initially. Quoting Jeremy Clarkson, a British TV presenter, he said, “Home is where your friends are. When we first came here, I was 13. It took two years for me to settle because I thought my home was in the UK where my old friends were. When I realised that I had to move on with my life, because they all had, I made new friends here. Now I have a good mix of international friends, so home is here.”

Whilst the brewing is mostly left to Phil and Tristan, Jill was instrumental in creating an authentic British pub menu. On it are all the classics that you’d expect to find such as a ploughman’s lunch, grilled beef sandwiches, steak cooked in ale and lasagne. “The most popular dishes are the most traditional ones,” she explained. “Most people come here for the sausage and mash or fish and chips. I suppose it reminds them of home.”

Connecting people

They have only been open a few weeks, but already have a selection of colorful characters they can call regulars. The clientele is roughly half-and-half Turks and expats from a wide range of backgrounds. “The expat community can sometimes feel a bit fragmented,” Phil told me. “What we wanted to do was to bring people together. Our objective was to create a community environment. That’s why we don’t have televisions on the wall or loud music: it’s somewhere people can come to talk, away from the craziness that is Istanbul.” He sees his position as key to this. “The environment relies on having a landlord who connects people. Part of our job is introducing people, which helps build the community spirit and brings the character. We’ve had literally thousands of people walk through our doors since we opened, and although they are getting to know me, I have to say I haven’t managed to remember all their names yet.”

The characters

One of the most interesting things about being an expat, the family agrees, is the diversity of the people you meet and the friends you make. Tristan tells me that he never expected to become firm friends with a 38-year-old Australian, and Callum is picking up Korean through the friends he’s made. Phil and Jill’s friends also come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from executives at HSBC to people who have married a Turk and come here to be with them.

“That’s what’s also nice about this place. In the UK, you meet interesting people, but the people who live here have a little bit extra. They’ve decided to come here and have faced the challenges and, as a result, have that a bit more character.”

“Our customers are a mixed bunch, from a group of American archaeology students to a French-Canadian fashion designer to the Cypriot-Turk from across the road who always brings us cake. We have some customers who don’t drink but who come to soak up the atmosphere. A lot of our local clientele are Turks who have lived abroad and acquired a taste for British food and culture and like the environment we’ve created.”

The Halls are a warm and friendly family who may have come to Turkey by chance but who stayed through choice. “When the recession hit, it affected a lot of people, both in the expat community and back home. The company I worked for no longer wanted to be active in Turkey. This forced me to create something myself, something that I was passionate about,” Phil explained, “I felt like there were more opportunities to do that here than back home, so we stayed. It doesn’t come without its trials and tribulations, of course, and we’ve faced a lot of issues, but through hard work and perseverance, we’ve overcome them and emerged stronger as a family. Now we’re extending our family even more through the characters we meet.”

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A standout character: Chef Çiğdem

Tonight we’re pleased to introduce you to our charming, globe-trotting, Chef Çiğdem, always on the lookout for a new taste sensation.

You’ve traveled extensively around the world. What was your favourite food destination? Why?
My favourite food destination so far was Cape Town where I loved the calamari and the shrimps. Most probably the reason was because they were freshly caught from the ocean and they were huge. I went to a restaurant called Ocean Basket: the atmosphere was really nice, there were seals loafing around,  and the food — like i just said — was really impressive!

Where would you next like to travel to?
I want to visit Moscow or/and Naples the next when I get a chance. Besides the Russian kitchen, I really want to visit the museums and the casinos. And why Naples? Well, I want to go there to refresh my mind and become more creative and impressive since the place is amazing itself.

Tell us about working with beer and food: what’s it like? Do you have any input in the brewing process?
Working in a brewing company has been a very different experience so far. In every menu item, we use different beers —Karbon, Hop & Glory and IPA, for example — in different dishes, like our Karbon cake, chicken liver pate, beer battered fish and chips. In order to combine the food and the beer we will continue to try new beers and new food combinations. I personally have some new ideas for beers and their tastes that we can flavour the food with them, and hopefully we’ll be starting to this new small project next year.

What’s your favorite beer at the Bosphorus Brew Co?
The very first time I met with the Hall family, I had the chance to taste Hop & Glory. And since then, it is my favourite. A close second is the Istanbul Pale Ale which we already use an ingredient in many of the menu selections. I have to say, it is my best friend in the kitchen.

How did you become a Chef?
That was a long road. First, I started studying in Yeditepe University’s Faculty of Economics. I finished my studies but then I realized that there wouldn’t be any satisfaction in a job requiring that kind of education, and luckily the year I graduated, the university opened a new department: Gastronomy and Culinary Arts. So I said “Why not?”  And that was just the beginning … now here I am working at the pub!

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A standout character: Ms. Ozlem Unsal

We’re excited to present the Bosphorus Brewing Co’s very first community member interview is with the lively, passionate intellectual, Ms. Ozlem Unsal, from City University, London

You’ve almost completed your Ph.D … what is your field of study? My research is based on the recent transformation of Istanbul under the forces of neo-liberal urbanism, so you can say that my field of study is urban sociology. More specifically I look at how the communities of inner-city poverty areas get mobilized around their rights once they get pressured by urban renewal schemes. Sulukule and Tarlabasi are the two neighbourhoods that I am focusing on.

Which beer do you enjoy most at the Bosphorus Brewing Company: Hop & Glory or Karbon? What other kinds of beer would you like to see from us? I am a proper stout enthusiast so Karbon would be my favourite but to be honest BB Co has been doing such a great job that at times it is very difficult for me to choose between Hop and Glory, and Karbon — even though Halic Gold is a tad sweet for my taste I sometimes find myself tending towards that option as well. What can I say, I have a love for beer so I welcome almost all options as long as we are talking about good beer! I think I like what I see at the BB Co so far so all I could ask for would be endless supply of what is already there – especially the ales and the stout!

You travel between Nicosia, London, and Istanbul; Tell me one thing — other than family and friends— that you love in each of these places. Food, certainly. Cyprus, where I come from, is a small island but I think it has a very humble yet special culinary culture that deserves to be cherished. I cook, eat and love Cypriot food. Istanbul, needless to say, has a lot to offer in terms of good food as long as you eat at the right place, or shop for quality ingredients. I also find that Istanbul is a definite winner when it comes to street food, compared to most European cities. Talking about London, I don’t even know where to start from since I don’t think there is any limit to the range of culinary pleasures it offers. People can keep discussing forever -if they wish- whether London has acquired the essence of ‘true cosmopolitanism’, or not, but I can confidently say that the culinary culture has already done that. I would also like to note that I hate it when people speak poorly of British cuisine. I think it has its very own depth and complexity just like any other cuisine and there is a lot to explore on that page. Show me someone who doesn’t like stilton cheese, apple crumble, or a proper roast with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings, and I’ll have a few words with them.

If you could invite anyone—living or dead—to supper who would you dine with and what would you serve? I would like to go for both scenarios: From the dead it would have to be my grandma who passed away in 2008. Very unfortunately I never got to cook for her and I think I owe her that since a substantial portion of my love for food comes from her. I would cook some of the most complex local Cypriot stuff that she cooked for us (the families and friends of her two daughters) for many years both because I knew she loved it as much as we did and also because I could ask her of some details and tips which I feel are missing in my cooking — very selfish. From the living I would go for Lena Dunham, one of my latest discoveries within the young writer/comedian category. She would make a good laugh and be easy with the food. Our dinner would be a casual spread of avocados in a red onion and vinegar dressing, a fish pie and a big bowl of green salad. We would have quite a few beers to go with all that and finish the night off with a Nutella cheesecake if our blood sugar levels hit bottom.

What’s your favourite word? What’s your least favourite word? My favourite word could be ‘procrastination’, especially these days when I am trying to finish my PhD. It represents a big universe where all the random things that you do to escape from work transform into those things that actually provide you with the energy to get back to work. I cannot think of any other mechanism that works better than this and I also cannot think of any other word that captures a universe as such. My least favourite word on the other hand would have to be ‘good’ as in the answer to ‘how are you doing?’. It is often the end result of a rhetorical dialogue and it pretty much means nothing. It bypasses too many things and helps boil most details (that might be of worth) down to a matter of insignificance.

–INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY I.A.W.