OFM Awards 2022: Young Chef – Sertaç Dirik | Chiefs
Bn March 2020, Sertaç Dirik had been in Copenhagen for almost two years. He was 23 and had worked his way into some of the Danish capital’s best restaurants, starting with 108-year-old Noma’s little sister and most recently at Matt Orlando’s famed zero-waste-themed Amass. When the pandemic arrived, Dirik received a call from his older brother, Ferhat. Their family restaurant, Mangal 2 Turkish Grill in Dalston, east London, was struggling. The business owed £40,000 to its suppliers and now Covid meant it had to close for the foreseeable future.
“I was taken home,” recalls Dirik, now 26, as he sits at a table by the window of Mangal 2, looking out at Stoke Newington Road. “I had a job in Copenhagen, I had a girlfriend. But my brother said he needed help and he never asks for help. I broke up with my girlfriend, quit my job and was home within a month.
“I had no idea what I was doing!”
Dirik’s father, Ali, had created the original Mangal in 1987. A more ambitious sequel opened in 1994. Both made pioneering use (at least for the UK) of the ocakbasi grill, a charcoal barbecue of interior wood designed according to the rigorous requirements of Ali Dirik. Features. But, over the years, Mangal restaurants have been victims of their own success: Sertaç Dirik estimates that within 150 meters of Mangal 2, there were 10 similar restaurants.
This was the problem the Dirik brothers faced in 2020. They didn’t know how to save Mangal 2, but Sertaç was adamant about what kind of restaurant he wanted. should not be. “I couldn’t go back to cooking daddy’s food, amazing as it was,” he says. “That would have been my sad line of his cooking.”
Two years later, Mangal 2 (or should it be 2.0?), with Dirik behind a new ocakbasi and Ferhat in front of the house, is as revolutionary as their father’s restaurants were in the 90s. rice have disappeared, replaced by modern Turkish cuisine with mainly British ingredients. Pickles and ferments, a nod to Copenhagen but also a staple of Anatolian culture, give dishes a tangy, lactic acidity and are accompanied by nice smoked meat. In the past, Mangal 2 bought its hummus; it now makes its own butter, cheese, sourdough and charcuterie.
The restaurant’s fortunes have turned around with improbable speed. The debts have long been paid off and the place is buzzing day and night. This year he ranked 35th in the National Restaurant Awards and Dirik’s OFM Award is further proof that his call to reinvent a 25-year-old institution was the right one.
“I had wars with my family,” says Dirik. “My father, my brother… We had serious depressions together. I’ve had 20-year-old regulars yell at me, ‘Where are my lamb cubes? You ruined everything!”
He laughs but the pressure of maintaining and modernizing the family business has clearly been heavy to bear. “I am incredibly happy and extremely shocked to receive an award like this,” he said. “None of this was part of the plan. It was so unlikely that it would work. It was supposed to fail!
Mangal 24 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 8BH