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Aydin Canatar is a chef who currently lives in Ottawa. He was born and raised in Mersin/Turkey. After graduating from high school, he migrated to Canada by himself. He started his journey in Toronto. His dream was to become a nurse at that point in his life. While he was studying nursing, he continued working at restaurants. It was a tough road, working and studying full time. Ultimately, he decided to continue working at restaurants.

After a while and with friends’ support, he started culinary school at George Brown College and he successfully graduated. He slowly built up his experience in the industry, working with the city’s best chefs. After gaining a good deal of experience with different cuisines, he wanted to focus on the Middle Eastern food. Opportunity arrived when one of the best chefs in Ottawa and he moved to start the project with him. After working as a chef for many years in Ottawa, he has decided to take a break. Now he cooks for himself at home and still learning each and every day.

Material Culture

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"Ottawa in wintertime, it's dark and it can get depressive, and that's why I like to have colourful things inside of the house. Even though outside is dark and depressive, staying inside gives me some excitement. ... It kind of boosts my energy."

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"When I was looking for a high-top table from IKEA. .. you can buy them separately; you buy the tabletop and then you buy the legs. At that time, I saw this one and I love colourful things, I'm like this is beautiful. I'm buying this. And since then, I think they removed it from their stock so whenever people go to check they cannot find this table ... So I think I'm the lucky one."

"I really like these colourful corns because I've never seen them before back home. I think it adds to the space - something colourful. Whenever I talk with my mum she'll say, 'Those corns are beautiful,' because we never had something like this back home."

"Later on I'm planning to get an actual worktable, all wood, and I think that would make like - much useful for a table like this. I like one thing to be multifunctional, I think, that way you can buy one thing and use it for many things. That is something I like."

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"I really like handmade stuff... If I have a really big group of people and they want Turkish coffee, I use this one."

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"That's kind of like my personality as well - colorful, something unique, something real. I really love it."

"The colour is all kinds, and just amazing."

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"This shelf here, this is so me because I have all the kitchen equipment in there and all the useful stuff for a chef. Whenever I look at this I think, 'I like this. I did a good job.'"


"This is something I really like, these metal shelves. This is very solid, this is like metal, you can jump on it and it's not gonna break. I think this opens up the space a lot, and I have a lot of equipment, like my blender, I have a juicer, I have this Robot Coupe, I have a kettle, a coffee grinder, all that. If I didn't have this shelf, I don't know where I'd cook. I wouldn't have any of this equipment... and I like everything open like this, and I know exactly where things are."

"But adding a kitchen island, adding those shelves, it made my space like an actual kitchen - like a functional kitchen."

"I really like what I did with my space. I have space for everything in this small apartment."

"If you don't season, you'll have something bland - so whatever you're making, you want to season it."

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"My dream is to own a smaller house - like one of those container houses. So this is a really good project for me to learn how to live in a smaller space. I feel like I don't need a lot of stuff to enjoy my life."


"I thought, 'How can I maximize my kitchen to make it bigger?' - so to do that, I really wanted a kitchen island, so I went for a higher table... so I created a kitchen island but... this is also my dining table."




"It's about experience. You need to know everything about your vegetables, your meats-everything depends... I can smell when it starts to begin to cook, and it's ready, and it's not burnt but getting closer to overdone, because the smell changes... The senses are very important... There are a lot of senses we use in the kitchen."

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"This is a very traditional kebap knife... I'll be making kebap with this [because] a lot of kebaps are made like this; cut by hand with a knife... You cut the meat this way and you're keeping in all the juices. If you're grinding the meat, what happens is you're squeezing the meat and you don't get the same texture... or the same taste."

"It's all about having fun, and enjoying, and celebrating the food we are making. Food brings people together and culture together, and that's why it's a beautiful thing to work with food."

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"We are constantly adapting and recipes change, but to keep our culture we stick with the same ideas - we just play around with some ingredients."


"[There are] thousands of recipes, [so recipes] change because tomato come to culture and eggplant comes to culture and we start getting all these things, so maybe in 20 year later it's going to be something very different."

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"I made this one myself. It was a DIY project, so I bought this from Staples. It's basically for you to put your clips and stuff [in], so I want [it to] put my spices... I thought it would be an easy one, but [it was] definitely challenging. I think it worked because now I can store my spices and it's very easy to take it, open it, and know exactly where things are."




"Once I got the knife in my hand, I'm like, 'This is fun!"'

"We go out with friends to kebap shops, sit in front of the grill, gather with friends, drink, eat, talk. Kebap brings back memories."

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"I love plants. This [tattoo] reminds me whenever I have hard times in life [to] keep me calm. It reminds me of calmness... Life can be hard sometimes, it can go sideways, but you need to stay calm and keep doing what you're doing."

"I really like banana trees because in my city there are a lot of banana trees, so it reminds me of my city, and they are beautiful."

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