Hilton İstanbul Maslak Executive Chef Arif Kemal Doğan, who is passionate about cooking, says that being in the kitchen is a special therapy for him.
Stating that the menu of the Zaxi Restaurant, which is within the hotel, stands out with its international cuisine specialties with a Far Eastern touch, Doğan said that with a team of 15, we are investing in freshness, seasonal delicacies, balance of savor, correct planning, an effective kitchen, and the right techniques.
Built the menu out of scratch
Hilton İstanbul Maslak Chef Arif Kemal Doğan is a highly experienced chef who has left behind 31 years in the food industry. He has worked in Milta Resort Hotel, T.M.T Resort Hotel, Marina Vista Hotel, and Bodrum Club Petunya in Bodrum since 1988, and came to İstanbul in 1997. Doğan had worked in Sürmeli Hotel until 2001 and continued his career as a chef in Çırağan Palace Kempinski, Mövenpick Hotel and Pera Palace Hotel. Since August 2018, he has been serving as the executive chef of Zaxi Restaurant, established within Hilton İstanbul Maslak. Arif Kemal Doğan, who specializes in two areas namely Mediterranean cuisine and Turkish cuisine, says that he has a tendency towards hot kitchen. Doğan, who has been involved in every process from the kitchen design of Zaxi Restaurant to the creation of menus and concepts, said, “It is extremely pleasant to witness the process of Zaxi Restaurant, becoming one of the most popular gourmet restaurants in İstanbul Maslak. The food concept of our kitchen is the world cuisine with a Far Eastern touch. While constructing the menu, we focused on the concept of addressing the common taste. Especially the business world wants to experience new flavors and new places. Zaxi promises different tastes to its target audience by considering the needs of those working and living in the Maslak region.”
A tasty break
Zaxi Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the target audience. At lunchtime, there are different options that add a different taste to each day of business people. Cuban music, jazz, and blues nights add a different color to the dining experience. We asked Arif Kemal Doğan the most remarkable specialties of the menu and got the following response: “There is great interest in specialties such as Zeama soup, salmon delight, tuna tartar, veal cheek, sea bass, and warm cake with dates. Every month, we add products to the menu as the ‘menu of the month’. In the summer, we mostly focus on cold soup options, seafood cocktails, fruit salads, and low-calorie main courses. Zaxi aims to provide a fine dining experience to the savor enthusiasts in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The working class can experience a variety of international cuisine dishes at Zaxi in a short time after they leave the office and take a short break in the pleasant, relaxed and lively atmosphere of the restaurant.” Doğan, who serves with a team of 15 in Zaxi, made the following comment: “I care about using fresh and seasonal products and supplying products locally. Along with these, I pay attention to the balance of savor of the food (salt, sugar, acid).”
He values the importance of time management
Highlighting that cooking is a kind of therapy for him, Arif Kemal Doğan explains how a day is usually spent at Zaxi Restaurant: “I start working around 10 am. I pay particular attention to the use of the right techniques in preparation and service. After “Mise en place” (workflow planning) is done, the needed products list is made and the next day’s orders are given. Then the lunch service starts. After the lunch service is finished, the dinner service starts at 7 pm. According to the intensity of the task at hand, I finish the workday at around 10 pm. With the right planning, having an effective kitchen is the lifeblood of this business. The effective use of time is of great importance in the kitchen as in any business. I give importance to creating a systematic, safe and comfortable working environment for the whole team, from the stewarding area, which is the most important area in terms of hygiene, to the entrances and exits to and from the kitchen, and from the layout of the kitchen to the establishment of a comfortable and fast service for the timely and accurate works. I do not like getting out of standards and working without discipline.” Doğan advises young people who want to practice this profession that they should love their work very much, be passionate about it, learn basic culinary techniques well, feed on their imagination, research, and learn a foreign language.
Lamb provence recıpe by chef Arif Kemal Doğan
Ingredients: 1 kg lamb chops, 160 gram buckwheat, 40 gram Dijon mustard, 40 gram pearl onions, 150 gram asparagus, 120 gram baby carrots, 120 gram baby zucchini, 80 gram baby radish, 20 gram salt, 4 gram black pepper seeds, 80 gram olive oil, 60 ml milk, 30 gram butter, 40 gram grated Parmesan cheese, 60 gram parsley, 5 gram thyme, 30 gram mint, 80 gram bread crumbs.
Directions: Marinate 4 pieces of lamb chops in salt, pepper, thyme, half of the olive oil, and milk after mixing them well. Wash the green herbs and dry them up. Blend them with bread crumbs in the food processor. Steam the baby vegetables and the asparagus, after cleaning. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and saute the onions and garlic. Wash the buckwheat and add to the onion-garlic mixture, continue to saute. Add some chicken stock. While the buckwheat is about to observe the stock completely, add butter and Parmesan cheese and stir. Seal both sides of the lamb chops and place them on an oven tray. Cook them in the preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Cover the lamb chops with mustard. Later dip them in the green herbs and bread crumbs mixture. Cook them again in the oven for 4 more minutes. Serve with buckwheat and vegetables. Enjoy!