If you've eaten at Anason, Somer Sivrioglu’s Turkish restaurant at Barangaroo, you've probably met Burak - their warm, ever-hospitable restaurant manager. Seeing him in action, effortlessly breezing around Anason's buzzing dining space, laughing and joking with diners, and looking after his team - it's easy to assume that Burak is a career hospitality professional.
His story, however, is a little different - and I had the chance to sit down with him over an apple tea to chat about his background, Turkish culture, and - of course - food.
Where did you grow up, and how long have you lived in Sydney for?
I grew up in Turkey, and we moved around a lot due to my father's work. The most memorable part of my childhood was in Istanbul - it’s such a great melting pot between east and west, it's full of energy, and you can find almost anything you want at any time of day!
After I married the woman of my dreams, we went on an adventure together that eventually led us to Sydney. There's a lot of similarities between the two cities, so I never feel that Istanbul is that far away. I love it – and always will - but I’m also so glad to be here.
Have you always had a hospitality background?
Actually, no! My background is in engineering, specialising in mining – and I’ve also completed a Master's degree in software engineering.
When we moved to Australia I was looking for sales positions in IT. I figured this would give me a bit of freedom to get things done my way, and I love talking to people and having that person-to-person focus. I managed to secure a role at an IT firm, while also doing a few shifts a week in hospitality for some extra income. However, the more time I spent around restaurants, the more I felt myself shifting my work priorities from IT to hospitality.
So what led you to being the restaurant manager at Anason?
I’d met Somer [Sivrioglu, Anason’s Executive Chef and owner] a couple of times when I was working in Darling Harbour. Then one day, he asked if I wanted to manage his new restaurant at Barangaroo. I said yes straight away – after all, Somer’s the biggest representative of Turkish cuisine in Australia – and from there, I left the world of IT and engineering behind.
What do you enjoy most about Anason?
Everything! The food, the Anason team, our guests, and the location. The area that I grew up in Istanbul was near the water, so I love opening up the restaurant every morning and looking out over the harbour. We have other staff that could open up in the mornings – but I’m happy to give them a bit of a sleep in because it’s one of my favourite parts of the day.
I’m so proud of our team’s effort and passion in what we do and achieve every day- the proof is in the keskul (Turkish almond milk pudding).
What’s your favourite cuisine (other than Turkish)?
I love Mediterranean food – put anything Spanish or Italian in front of me and I can't say ‘no’! Same goes with Mexican and Brazilian Churrasco, I guess because they have such similar tastes and flavours to Turkish cuisine. I’m also a seafood lover, so Australia is heaven for me in terms of access to great produce too.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in hospitality?
I really don’t know… I think I’ve found my perfect job! I love talking with people from different backgrounds, cultures and points of view. You can learn so much. And working at Anason has allowed me to do that every day - so I have to give thanks to Somer for this opportunity (even though our guests sometimes think that I'm the owner!).