Head chef serves up surprise journey

A FORMER asylum seeker who could not even prepare an egg when he arrived in Britain has cooked his way to the top at an award-winning restaurant.Mehmet Yazici, originally from Turkey, has now been appointed head chef at The Galley, in Ipswich, after training and working for three years under the watchful eye of chef proprietor, Ugur Vata .

A FORMER asylum seeker who could not even prepare an egg when he arrived in Britain has cooked his way to the top at an award-winning restaurant.

Mehmet Yazici, originally from Turkey, has now been appointed head chef at The Galley, in Ipswich, after training and working for three years under the watchful eye of chef proprietor, Ugur Vata .

Mr Yazici, who could not speak English before he started training at The Galley, has learnt cooking and language skills from Mr Vata, who also originates from Turkey.

Mr Vata said yesterday : "Mehmet has the culinary skills, dedication and creativity in the kitchen, which are synonymous with the Galley's style of imaginative international cuisine.


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"He's also done so well in becoming part of the Ipswich community."

Mr Yazici, aged 33, fell in love with Ipswich after he arrived in the UK four years ago and has recently been granted UK citizenship.

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He had fled the south-eastern part of Turkey, where he was a farmer, as he became a "piggy in the middle", not joining the Kurdish militants or being against the government.

Mr Vata said: "He couldn't get on with his life. He has had both persecution and torture. He moved to Istanbul, which was hard bearing in mind he has four children."

But Istanbul was also far from welcoming so with the help of his brothers, one who lives in Germany and the other in England, he came to Britain.

He arrived in Felixstowe before being transferred by the authorities to Ipswich, where Mr Vata took him on, and solicitors are now looking into bringing his wife and four children to the town.

Since then Mr Yazici has attended English courses in Ipswich and learnt to cook Galley style. His signature dishes include Capel St Mary organic mushrooms glazed with classic Welsh rarebit.

Along with Mr Vata, he sources the best quality ingredients and fresh produce from local suppliers for the restaurant, which is listed in major 2004 food guides, including a star rating in the prestigious Harden's Guide.

Mr Vata, who opens his second restaurant in Woodbridge in May, is being awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Suffolk College this year in recognition for his teaching skills.

He said: "In the long term I can see him being a shareholder in The Galley eventually. I do not have a problem with people's backgrounds or colour as long as they are determined to learn and good human beings."

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