Multi award winning Masterchef, Kemal Coskuncay, has deservedly earnt his reputation as an elite chef and one of the best in the Liverpool region. From working his way up the ranks in Turkey to plying his trade in some of the best restaurants in London and now acting as a Restaurant Consultant and Private Dining Specialist in Liverpool, his career has been as colourful as his dishes.
Since moving to South Liverpool in February 2020, Kemal has brought his expertise to the city, with the aim of enhancing the already high quality dining scene. He created Private Delicacies — a company that offers exceptional private dining for events and restaurants — and also acts as a Consultant for some of the region’s best restaurants, preparing their menus and training their chefs and staff.
Although many of the region’s diners may not necessarily know Kemal, they’ll certainly know some of the restaurants he has worked for on a consultative basis. Kemal has masterminded menus and trained staff for some top local restaurants such as Al Dente on Lark Lane, Christakis and Anar — all of which are ranked as some of the highest rated restaurants in Liverpool on Trip Advisor.
That said, the Turkish Masterchef comes from humble beginnings and has worked extremely hard to become such a revered figure in the North West’s culinary scene. Starting out as a dishwasher at Captain Hiko Mediterranean restaurant in the Turkish resort of Bodrum, Kemal had to work his way up and earn his stripes — as is the custom in the world of Turkish hospitality.
Kemal recalls: “Ever since I was a child in Turkey I was fascinated by food. I would watch my Mother cook and learnt all the traditional Turkish methods and secrets from an early age. The Turkish cooking philosophy is quite different to other countries’ — for example styles such as infusing sauces from the beginning of the process and slow cooking. I picked things up quickly from an early age but I still had to work my way up and prove myself.”
After working in the hot kitchens of busy Turkish resorts as a dishwasher and kitchen porter, Kemal soon worked his way up and was able to excel as a chef. He became a Tomahawk Steak specialist and a ‘new generation chef’ — blending the traditional methods his Mother had taught him with exciting new forward thinking styles — and within just a few years he had been awarded Young Chef Of The Year in his homeland.
Kemal explained: “I was determined to get to the highest level. I was very passionate and even obsessive — I researched everything about every single ingredient. My Mother taught me all the folklore stories behind the Turkish dishes, some of them dating back to the Ottoman Empire, and I wanted to keep that tradition but put my own signature on them. This is where I got my reputation as a ‘new generation chef’ in my country.”
After developing his reputation in Turkey, Kemal came to London in 2000 — working at multi award winning restaurants such as Marrakesh in Leicester Square and creating dishes for celebrities and high end connoisseurs. He won a ‘Best Foreign Chef In London’ award and following six years of success he returned to Turkey in 2006 to open his first restaurant — Al Dente in Altinkum (no connection to Al Dente in Lark Lane).
With full control of the dishes and menu, fusing the traditional Turkish methods with his own styles and ones he’d learnt from some of the best chefs in London, Kemal set about making his new restaurant one of the best in Turkey. Al Dente rose to meteoric heights and won awards such as Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice, Best Organic Turkish Food and Best Resort Restaurant awards.
Kemal said: “I always use the very best fresh, organic ingredients but the secret ingredient to any dish is passion. You are only as good as your last dish and it’s easy to get complacent. This is especially important when you have worked your way up to Head Chef as you need to lead by example and the key is to never stop learning. Even after working my way up to the top, I have still learnt great things from other chefs.”
Kemal came to Liverpool at the beginning of 2020, a dream for him as a big Liverpool F.C fan, and he now acts as a Consultant to local restaurants and a Private Dining Specialist. Kemal works very closely with Liverpool’s Al Dente — preparing the menu and training the staff of a restaurant that has consistently been ranked in the Top 10 Liverpool restaurants on Trip Advisor for years.
Terry Williams, Al Dente’s Head Chef who has trained with Jamie Oliver, said of Kemal: “We’re really honoured to have a chef as talented as Kemal in Liverpool. He’s one of the most dedicated and professional chefs I’ve met, internationally renowned, and he really knows his stuff. Not only is he a fantastic chef who has taught us so much, he’s also a great guy and does lots for the local community.”
After settling in Liverpool with his wife and three children, Kemal has become an integral part of the community. In addition to working with top restaurants and putting on exclusive dining events, Kemal has done lots of outreach work such as delivering hundreds of meals to local vulnerable people and teaching children how to cook at The Florrie.
Kemal said: “I love Liverpool and I have always wanted to live here. I am a big Liverpool F.C fan and so are my children — serving food for Liverpool legends such as Ian Callaghan so that has been like a dream for me. I love the people here — they are friendly and really appreciate great service. There’s such great quality in the region and my aim is to introduce my skills and knowledge to help the excellent restaurants here become even better.”
He summarized: “It’s been a long 30 year career for me so far and I’ve achieved a lot but I’ve always had drive and strived to be the best — now I want to pass all this knowledge and philosophy to others. I have loved working with the restaurants of Liverpool and have met some great people — it feels good to see them mastering my menus, learning new skills and developing themselves. I’m in a great place in my career and my life.”
From very humble beginnings, Kemal Coskuncay has become one of the most revered ‘new generation’ Turkish chefs and has endeared himself to the people of Liverpool. With a whole host of awards and vast experience behind him, blending traditional Turkish methods and recipes with his own modern twists, now is the time to pass on this knowledge to Liverpool — enhancing the city’s already eclectic dining scene.