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Of Turkish descent, Oz was born and raised in Germany. She immigrated to Canada at the age of ten. Together with her brother, she started Oz Kafe, a seasonal regional restaurant in downtown Ottawa in 2004.

Informal Hospitality

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"I think when you're always trying to fit into a new place, it's nice to stand
apart and be proud of something that you're bringing to the table."

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"I think all that along with the hospitality I saw in our household when people come over -you give them water, and you bring them tea or coffee, you bring out snacks. Even if people are saying that they are not hungry, this is insisted and is almost an insult if someone doesn't touch something that you've put out in front of them."

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"There was no phoning someone to say you're coming over. People literally would just ring your doorbell and show up. 'We were just in the neighbourhood, and came for tea!' so, 'Welcome. Come on in.' You drop what you're doing and make sure your guests are well taken care of. I think that set the groundwork for not necessarily wanting a restaurant, but being kind of good at hospitality in a way."


Material Culture

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"[My mother] has a teapot that her family friend sent. A çaydanlık from Turkey. Basically, they say, 'Oh, there's a nice pattern of this teapot out,' and mom will say, 'Oh, that's so nice,' because you can't buy these things here that style. And basically, a week later a package shows up... It kind of subdues that longing when you get objects from home."

"[My mother] likes to grow things from a single leaf or one cutting, so a lot of them were a lot smaller, but over the years had grown, so we don't necessarily go out and buy a big plant. She likes the process of growing from little to watch them grow ... she's a nurturer all around."

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"It evokes a lot of childhood memories of sitting around the kitchen table with my mom and my grandma ... it's a bit of a laborious process and it would just become sort of like an afternoon thing of just making the stuffing for it and then sitting there after having blanched your grape leaves, getting them all ready, and then individually rolling them, hand rolling each one and filling a big pot and putting it on the stove and cooking it and then leaving it in the fridge and enjoying it for a few days afterwards and passing it on to family, friends, and neighbours."

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"One of my fondest memories is definitely making - when my parents first got this house, in the front yard laying out a big clean sheet and drying tarhana - a soup ... Friends in the neighbourhood biking by would be like, "What are you guys doing?", "We're making this fermented soup," but on the lawn, in a sunny afternoon and you're grandma's telling stories about her growing up. It was such a bonding thing. To hear your own history unfolding when people are cooking and talking together. It's a nice feeling. It's that connected feeling with your family and your roots."

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Labour of Love

" My mom would jump in and be like, 'Oh, I'll do this' and help [my grandma] out. .. my mom would go over and help tidy the house, and also go and make a few kinds of things for my uncles and grandma to have as she got older."

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"When my brother and I first opened our restaurant in 2004, we'd never worked in restaurants. Neither of us are a chef or restaurateur and we thought it would be fun to have a little place ... We had a plate that included these dolmas and my mom started making [them] for us, and over the years she must've made tens of thousands of them ... She made a pot everyday because the dish became so popular, and they were on the mezze platter—they were actually called 'Mom's Dolmas ' ... People still talk about them."



"The cooking happens at my mom's as my grandmother was a bit older. We made meals out of her house too, but it was always mom's kitchen, just sitting around and chatting, and talking and she was always busy-busy making everything, and prepping everything, and it's just a lot of warmth and nurturing that gets passed along with food and just something different... I think it was like bringing a piece of home with us to here, and introducing it to people here as well."

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"It's the people that make the house ... you gotta build with something, you gotta start with something."

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