Since bursting onto the London food scene with her Turkish-Cypriot cookery, Selin Kiazim has quickly become one of the restaurant industry's most exciting and unique talents. With her food rooted in her own Turkish-Cypriot heritage, Kiazim is known for combining bold flavours with elegant presentation to create dishes which go further than just kebabs or mezze.
However, Kiazim was not always interested in becoming a chef. Born to Turkish Cypriot immigrant parents in London, she was brought up on her mother's traditional cooking and would regularly visit her grandparents in Cyprus, who grew everything they ate. Although she got into cooking at the age of just 11, Kiazim left school hoping to become an architect rather than pursuing a professional career in food.
Quickly though she changed her mind, realising that her heart really lay in the kitchen. After finishing her catering training at Westminster Kingsway College, where she was spotted by Peter Gordon during a competition, Kiazim was immediately employed by Gordon at his Marylebone restaurant, The Providores. She spent two years working in the kitchen there before working her way up through the ranks at various London restaurants, eventually ending up as head chef of Kopapa, another of Gordon’s restaurants.
Having now become a head chef, Kiazim decided that what she really wanted, was to own a restaurant of her own. She left Kopapa and began running a series of pop-ups where she cooked her own menu for the first time. After successful residencies at the Trip Kitchen and Carousel, which saw her win praise from critics including Grace Dent and Giles Coren, iher ambition was realised in 2015 when she opened the doors to her debut restaurant Oklava in Shoreditch.
Oklava quickly became a huge success thanks to the unique cuisine on offer, and thrust Kiazim further into the limelight. In the following years, she competed in BBC’s Great British Menu, where she took her dessert all the way to the final banquet, and also released her first cookbook entitled Oklava: Recipes from a Turkish-Cypriot kitchen. Having opened another restaurant and bakery in the past few years, Kiazim continues to make Turkish-Cypriot food more and more popular across the UK.