Growing up in a family full of cooks, Chef Okan Albayrak’s artisanal pizzas are unlike any out there. 

Here, we speak to Chef Okan Albayrak about his journey in being a foreign chef in Malaysia.

What inspired you to be a chef and how did you get started? 

I was a teenager when I first developed an interest in food because my parents would be out working, and I would be the one cooking at home—though I am mostly self-taught.

Not only that, I come from a family of cooks. My mother is a chef who specialises in Turkish cuisine, my uncle’s a baker, while my brother’s a chef who cooks different types of cuisines such as Turkish, French, Mexican and Italian. So, naturally I was exposed to the culinary world at a very young age.

In 2007, I enrolled in a culinary school in Turkey called Okan University. I then later moved to Fatih Sultan Mehmet University. Fast forward to 2022, here I am, at Pie Guys KL where I specialise in making artisanal pizzas.

If you had to create a menu with one ingredient, what would you choose? And why? 

I would say roast beef. This is the one ingredient I have always wanted to use to create a one-of-a-kind pizza topping; it might sound like an unusual choice but this locks in all the right flavours. 

Share with us an interesting chef story you have!   

Back in Turkey, I got electrocuted while working with a dough-kneading machine. Someone had hit my hands with a block of wood which caused me to lose my grip.

Despite the drama, it’s quite funny when I look back at it. But in the kitchen since anything can happen, one can never be too careful. 

Being a foreign chef in Malaysia, what are some of the things you had to change in order to adapt to the Malaysian taste buds? 

I studied some of the things Malaysians love and adapted it to the menu. Some of the things I did include adding extra garlic in the tomato base along with a handful of chilli flakes, cheese, and onions.

I also notice that Malaysians love pizzas that come with a massive load of toppings. 

How does the pizza from Pie Guys differ from any other pizzas out there? 

Because I am the one preparing them *winks* 

But in all seriousness, our pizzas are unlike any other basic or mediocre pizzas out there, not throwing any shade on the other pizza parlours out there.

Our dough is made from scratch and the ingredients for the toppings are carefully selected, and most of the produce we use actually comes from Italy.




written by.

Melissa Foong

Born and raised in the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur, Melissa is a writer that hopes to offer a fresh female perspective on the world of men's luxury fashion. When she's not busy chasing deadlines, you can find her tucked in a blanket rereading her favourite series of fantasy novels, Harry Potter.
Hot & Spicy: Turkish Pizzaiolo Chef Okan Albayrak On Being A Foreign Chef In Malaysia
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