Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Serdar Demir and I’m an entrepreneur mainly involved in restaurants and property. The Mantl is a new restaurant concept that focuses on traditional Turkish cuisine with a twist. It involves traditional cooking over hot coals to prepare modern Turkish cuisine that’s designed to share.
I’d been looking for a site in Knightsbridge for two years when I caught wind of 142 Brompton road. I didn’t hesitate, and the rest is history.
You come home drunk and hungry – what do you cook? It would have to be something quick and tasty like an omelette or menemen, which is a traditional Turkish dish made from eggs, tomatoes, peppers and spices.
What’s the strangest encounter you’ve had in your restaurant? I remember serving a mother and her two children, at the end of their meal we spoke, and she told me that “the food was lovely… but the ice cream was too cold” I found that very strange.
What’s your earliest food memory? Eating burnt yoghurt – this was a delicacy that my family used to make from time-to-time. I remember it tasting quite creamy with a burnt caramelised taste. Our smoked sheep’s yoghurt (a cold starter) was inspired by this early food memory.
What’s your favourite dish? I have a sweet tooth and could easily substitute my main meal for a dessert. Especially Turkish desserts like sutlac (rice pudding) or kadayif (made from a noodle-like pastry).
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever put in your mouth? I’ve never been a fan of ravioli or dumplings. I would be exaggerating to say they were the worst thing I’ve ever eaten but it’s safe to say that they don’t work for me.
What should everyone have in their kitchen cupboard? Sumac. This wonderful spice just adds another dimension to so many things from salads, cold meze and even sprinkled onto grilled meat.
What’s the best thing about the London food scene? It’s the competition. London has so many restaurants in every category, from everyday brunch spots to a fine dining. It means people are always looking to create new experiences and push boundaries to give customers something to go “wow” about.
You’re mayor for a day – what food law would you introduce? I would encourage more locally sourced foods to be used and focus on more sustainable ways to package and deliver food.
What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve seen a chef do? Many years ago, I caught one of my chefs trying to boil an egg by putting it in the microwave – with the shell still on! Ridiculous.
• The Mantl, 142 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, SW3 1HY; Book at themantl.com or call 020 7584 6677