Notting Hill – you may go there to visit the bustling Portobello Road Market or to mooch around the renowned Notting Hill Bookshop. However, Notting Hill is also home to Turkish open-fire restaurant, The Counter.
Run by chef Kemal Demirasal, originally a six-times Turkish national champion windsurfer, The Counter is his first London-based restaurant. It offers guests a contemporary fine dining experience that features traditional dishes from the Southeastern Anatolia Region, with a twist. The self-taught chef showcases his unique cooking techniques through each dish, delivering a dining experience that is truly special.
What can diners expect from The Counter?
Quality ingredients, smoke and authenticity.
How would you describe your cooking and food?
Straightforward, spontaneous, with salt and acid.
What do you wish more people knew about Turkish cuisine?
How good we are at cooking fish and seafood.
Is there a signature dish at The Counter that customers must try?
I believe it’s the chocolate babaganoush. It’s the very opposite of what to expect and everyone loves it.
You were a six-time national champion windsurfer before changing career paths. What prompted this change?
I was done with the motivation to surf and be a seventh-time champion. To challenge myself, the change was needed. New paths give you a focus to survive and make you feel alive. I believe, in my late 40s, that might happen again – a shift to the music or design industries.
During your successful gastronomy career, have you ever experienced doubt or uncertainty in your abilities? If so, how did you overcome this?
I never doubt, because I don’t see obstacles as problems but things you should challenge yourself to overcome.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received in your career, and why?
Don’t stick to one kitchen; there is more than one kitchen out there to explore. Once you see that, it reflects better on everything you do. Breathe in life.
What’s your most treasured gastronomy memory – as either a chef or a diner?
The very first lunch visit to Asador Etxebarri back in 2012. If you know, you know.
What ingredients can you not live without?
Onion, tarragon, sea salt and olive oil.
What’s next for Kemal Demirasal?