He’s a busy guy, but we pulled Chef Husnu Ozcan out of the kitchen to learn more about some of the best restaurants in Addis Ababa– all of which he runs!
1) Where are you from?
I am from Turkey. I grew up in the city of Manisa whose history goes back to 500 BC. In ancient times, Manisa was favored by the princes and sultans of the Ottoman Empire. There are many beautiful, old buildings that still remain from this time period.
2) How many countries have you worked in as a hotel chef?
I have worked in 7 countries: Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia, Seychelles, Turkey, and Ethiopia.
3) What do you like about being a chef in Ethiopia?
I love working in Ethiopia. It’s surprising how many cultural similarities there are between Ethiopia and Turkey. Even Ethiopian meals are a very close resemblance to Turkish food. For example, in Turkey, we also enjoy cooking with a lot of berbere (pronounced ber-berry).
3) Have you ever work at the Best Western Plus Hotel Chain before?
No, it’s my first time working with this hotel brand.
4) What are the benefits of cooking at a hotel like Best Western Plus?
It’s a new culture and an amazing 4-star brand with some of the best restaurants in Addis Ababa. I get to be creative, and I’m always thinking about how to make us the very best.
5) What do you like about being a chef at Best Western Plus?
Being a chef at Best Western Plus Addis Ababa is an amazing experience. I truly love it. Every day is different because we are always creating new specials, new meals, new desserts.
We strive to always exceed customer expectations. It’s a lot of pressure, but we work well together as a team. In the end, it’s a fun challenge and the best part is seeing how happy the customer is with each bite.
6) Do you know how to cook Ethiopian food?
7) What is your favorite Ethiopian dish?
I love Chakla Tibs. It’s charbroiled meat sauteed with onions and green pepper and served with injera. There’s nothing better than that.
8) Tell me about the dining options at Best Western Plus.
Best Western Plus has 3 restaurants in Addis Ababa and a desserts-only cafe (all located within the hotel).
1st Restaurant: Ferenssaye Legasseion
Ferenssaye Legasseion is the indoor, outdoor cafe beside our lobby. It serves meals plus light snacks. Anything from a grilled, juicy cheeseburger, homemade pizza, steak, lamb, and some tasty vegetarian options.
A lot of people enjoy using our high-speed wifi while eating any of the delicious items served on the menu.
2nd Restaurant: home
We also have, ‘home,’ our restaurant on the mezzanine floor. It serves some of the same food as our cafe, but we have a wonderful business lunch buffet. The buffet has something for everyone, including:
- Salad bar with fresh lettuce, vegetables, hummus, and organic, whole-grain bread
- Ethiopian Food including tibs (grilled beef), doro wat (spicy chicken dish), shiro, (chickpea stew), gomen (collard greens), & much more. There are great options, even on “fasting days” for Orthodox Christians.
- International Food including rice, pasta, meat dishes, and several multi-cultural cuisine options.
- Dessert bar which includes fresh fruit, chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, fruit tarts, and so many other fabulous desserts.
At home, every Tuesday night we serve Turkish cuisine. Obviously, that’s my favorite night.
Every Thursday night is International Night. We serve amazing Asian, Mexican, Italian, French, and American food. Everyone loves it.
3rd Restaurant: Janmeda
Janmeda is my favorite. It’s located on the 10th floor and has a 360-degree view of the city. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Equipped with a huge bar, large screen TVs, and plenty of comfy couches, Janmeda is perfect for date nights and big friend gatherings.
So far, Janmeda has been open by appointment only. But starting in a couple of months, we will be open full time. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but the menu at Janmeda is unbelievable. Keep following us on social media to find out about the Grand Opening, because, trust me, you’ll enjoy it very much.
Our desserts cafe, Sweet Dreams, just opened. It’s run by our Turkish pastry chef named, Chef Faik. He does an amazing job. Sweet Dreams is actually located to the left of our main entrance. You’ll see great, big, yellow umbrellas.
We serve 12 different kinds of Italian gelato, all kinds of cakes and pastries, including New York Style Cheesecake. Every morning, we also make European-style bread like, German Brown Bread, French Baguette, Italian Focaccia, Organic Sourdough, and Teff bread. We also serve iced coffee, iced tea, juices, smoothies, and milkshakes.
9) What makes food at Best Western Plus different from other hotels and restaurants in Addis?
My team cooks with passion. It’s cheesy to say, but our secret ingredient is love. When you cook each meal because you love cooking, you relish each and every ingredient, and you want to create the most delicious flavor just because it pleases you to do so. That’s when real magic happens in the kitchen.
Chefs need passion and love for the art. That’s what makes us different.
10) What are your top 3 favorite meals at Best Western Plus?
The Meat Basket: It’s a selection of different meats (chicken, beef, lamb, etc.) grilled fresh & served to you on your own mini-grill
Lamb Shank: Tender, fall of the bone lamb shank braised in a delicious juicy sauce
Beef Ribs: Slowly cooked, rubbed with spices and served with a tasty sauce.
11) How many chefs work at the hotel?
We have 26 chefs and 10 stewards. It’s a huge team. But it allows us to prepare fresh food, delicious recipes, every single day.
12) Consistency and food hygiene are the biggest issues in even the best restaurants in Addis Ababa. How have you addressed these challenges?
Best Western Plus is an American brand. We follow all international standards. Our kitchen is always kept spotless. We also have strict, routine, supervision and we invest heavily in training. For us, consistency and food safety is our biggest priorities, and I’m proud to say, we haven’t had any issues.
13) What is your favorite Turkish meal?
My favorite Turkish meal is Lamb Mutancana. It’s an old, fusion recipe that was a favorite among the Sultans. It’s by far one of the most interesting dishes from the Ottoman empire.
Lamb Mutancana is tender lamb cooked with honey, onions, butter, almonds, and dried fruits, including figs which gives it a crunchy texture and topped with pistachio nuts.
14) How have you infused Turkish flavor into the menu at Best Western Plus Addis Ababa?
Turkish Cuisine is a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, and Balkan Cuisine.
I infuse a bit of Turkish and Dubai flavor into many of our recipes. However, we serve 7 Turkish foods.
This includes everything from Simit, which is a traditional sesame bread eaten for breakfast to the way we create our lamb dishes.
15) What about guests with dietary restrictions (gluten-free, vegan, allergies)?
We cater to everyone. It’s particularly easy in Ethiopia because several of the foods are naturally gluten-free and vegan– especially Ethiopian food.
However, all our menus contain wonderful options for anyone gluten-free or vegan. And no– not just french fries. We serve great meals that are both healthy & indulgant.
For those preferring low sodium or low oil foods or anyone with a food allergy, just let one of our chefs know. We’ll make sure we cook the food according to your specifications.
Any Final Words?
Best Western Plus Addis Ababa is wonderful because everyone will find something on the menu that they love. However, we also have several specialties and our own authentic take on food so it really feels like specially crafted meals and not, “generic hotel food.”
I hope you come see us soon!