Now here is what you would call a “hands-on” chef! From the ocean to the plate in a matter of minutes, as Chef Nurettin Aydoğan of the Club Liberté Casino in Seychelles is an avid fisherman.
As Nurettin says, “When you have been cooking fish all your professional life, you want to go out and catch them sometimes as well”. And what better place than the Seychelles? Prior to taking up his post at the Club Liberté, Nurettin was the head chef at a huge casino resort in Kazakhstan.
And as you may be aware, there is not a lot of ocean surrounding Kazakhstan! In fact, the nearest ocean was several thousand kilometres distance. So here in the Seychelles he takes every opportunity away from his kitchens to get out on the ocean and bring in some of the bountiful harvest that is just waiting out there.
In the short time that Nurettin has been in the Seychelles, he has turned the food concept at the Club Liberté on its head. The overall philosophy of the “5 Spices” restaurant at the Club Liberté is to be a true expression of Seychellois “terroir”. Currently, the menu evolves on a daily basis as ingredients move in and out of season following their natural rhythms. If you don’t see what you want on the menu, then ask for it and you may be surprised by what they can do.
Central to Nurettin’s cooking are sustainable seafood, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, juices and infusions, from the Seychelles wherever possible. Richer items like butter and cream are used where necessary but not by default, and seasoning levels are judicious, ensuring a much lighter style of cooking that is in keeping with many people’s desire to eat more healthily. Nurettin’s aim is to treat all ingredients with the utmost respect and admiration by limiting waste with a strong nose to tail dining ethos.
Nurettin, Jerico and Trevor together in the kitchen love what they do and this is evident in every aspect of a visit to the “5 Spices” restaurant, from the winning seasonal food to the welcoming and knowledgeable service. Everything is done with care, thought and passion. Firm believers in using local seasonal produce, local growers and suppliers are supported, and menus presently change regularly, depending on what is fresh and seasonal and there is always an exciting new dish to try.
We had a few words with Nurettin about his philosophy of life and of food – difficult enough to catch him as he is either in the kitchen or fishing!
Was there ever a moment when you thought you had bitten off more than you could chew?
Yes and no! You always think you have bitten off more than you can chew on a day where you are challenged. But you never lose sight of your goal and I think that is important because it gives you the opportunity to reflect, realise how far you have come to get where you are, and that is key when it comes to development and achieving your dreams. You can’t let your challenges make you overlook the bigger picture.
And your work life balance?
I admit that my work life balance isn’t great but I am not complaining and it has always been the case. It is getting slightly better, I love the time that I get to spend outside in the Seychelles, and on occasion I might get to squeeze in some fishing to keep a healthy lifestyle, but hard work has always been a part of who I am and that is what it takes to achieve your goals.
Is sustainability important to you?
Yes sustainability is important and we see this in various ways. We aim to be sustainable financially, environmentally and use local produce to support the sustainability of the local economy. You can’t do one without the other so it is something we have at the forefront of our minds with everything we do at the Club Liberté.
What would you say is the single biggest USP you would want to create for the Club Liberté and the 5 Spices Restaurant?
Our location and sense of place, it is an incredible place and an incredible building and it gives our guests a different experience each time they return to us.
If you can change anything, what would that be?
I wouldn’t really change much, there are a few minor details. The physical concept of the new restaurant will be completed in a month or so and overall, I am very pleased with what we are creating.
If you had to rate your satisfaction on the Club Liberté so far what would it be?
100% satisfaction… But there is always the opportunity to improve.
There speaks a man who is happy with what he does!