Elif’s Gül: Fire and Family
Gül is a haven for families, as well as serving exquisite Turkish cuisine. Elif Oskan and her team take a lively and vivacious approach to running the restaurant in Zurich’s city centre, radiating as many sparks of joy as the restaurant’s Turkish oven spreads warmth.
The contrast between Elif Oskan’s two restaurants could hardly be bigger: Rosi in Zurich serves traditional Bavarian fare, while Gül is the fulfilment of her dream of owning a traditional Turkish restaurant. You might say that the trained chef Elif, together with her partner Markus Stöckle from the Allgäu region, build culinary and cultural bridges – and in doing so enrich the food scene in Zurich.
“Our kitchen is our home”, says Elif with conviction. Her restaurant has become a popular haunt and family-friendly location since opening a year ago and has earned a reputation for its wonderful dishes and very special attitude to life. Elif is proud to share with her home town the recipes her family prepared and that she enjoyed during childhood and to bring them to life at Gül. That takes a lot of courage and needs plenty of support as well. Aside from Markus, Elif’s life and business partner at Rosi also, it would be impossible to envisage Gül without her father, whom she affectionately calls Baba: he has been there from the very beginning, taking care of the guests and the tea, and is her right-hand man and amiable face of the Turkish restaurant.
At work, Elif sees herself more in the role of the matriarch who holds the various personalities together. “Harmony truly is the most important thing”, says the professional chef, adding that she cares nothing for the hackneyed perceptions of harsh customs in the eatery scene. Instead she attaches the utmost importance to trust, openness and certainly respect – qualities that Elif embodies as the female head of the community. All the same, Elif’s mother still steps in and takes charge from time to time. For example, when she looks after the stuffed köfte or when she gently criticises the odd culinary experiment vacillating somewhere between Turkish tradition and the hearty taste of Swiss cooking. But it is this bold approach that epitomises Elif’s style and lends it a special attraction.
Courage, balance, openness – sounds like a great recipe for an eatery. Gül extends these principles to all other areas of the establishment as well. Take the work at the hob, for instance: “The times of having a separate kitchen are over”, says Elif with a chuckle as she talks about her restaurant. A native of Switzerland, she is determined to include her guests in the experience. Elif believes it is an essential part of Turkish cuisine to share the fire, the ateş, that is used to grill and bake the dishes and that also burns in her heart. “All people are equal in front of the charcoal grill” is the motto at Gül, and Elif and Markus allow this mentality to permeate the interior design as well. Everyone can see the hustle and bustle in the kitchen from the spacious dining room, so they notice if someone occasionally burns themselves on the fire, but also how the crew dances exuberantly through the kitchen to Turkish music and how well the large kitchen family enjoys the experience of cooking together.
So Gül is more than just a unique blend of different tastes and cultures, but also the best of all worlds in which Elif grew up. Guests at Gül are invited to visit her in these worlds and to become part of the family, the aile, at least for a while.
- 250 g flour
- 8 g salt
- 175 g water
- 25 g fresh yeast
- Grape syrup or table molasses
- Sesame seeds, raw
- Place the flour and salt in a stand mixer and mix thoroughly.
- Mix the water and yeast until the yeast has completely dissolved and add to the flour/salt mixture.
- Knead for 10 minutes on a medium speed with the dough hook attachment.
- Once you are finished, cover the dough and leave to rest for around 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Divide the dough into four parts, cover it again and leave it to rise for 15 minutes at room temperature. Use this time to preheat the fan oven to 200 °C.
- Roll the dough sections into braids, twist them like cords and then press the ends together.
- Bathe the dough in the grape syrup, roll in the sesame seeds and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover and leave to rise for another 15 minutes and then bake in the preheated oven until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Serve with lightly salted kaymak (also known as ‘clotted cream’) or double cream, honey and black tea.