A butcher by trade, Chef Cüneyt Asan is the founder and partner of one of Middle East’s popular steakhouses, Günaydin Restaurant. From a small butcher shop to one of the most sought-after dining spots in the region, Günaydin’s success has a lot to do with its master-chef founder’s love for quality steak. On his two-day visit to the island, Bahrain Confidential got to spend some quality time with Chef Asan as he hosted Bahrain’s many influencers at his restaurant over lunch and dinner.
What inspired you to start a steakhouse?
Hunger has been my driving force. I once found myself hungry and desperate for money while living on the streets. To make ends meet, I approached the first butcher I came across and asked if they would consider hiring me. Moved by pity, they gave me a chance. This marked the beginning of my journey as a butcher.
As time went on, I developed an intense passion for my work—it felt as though it was my purpose in life. It transcended being just another job; it became an all-encompassing love affair. I don’t merely look at meat with ordinary eyes—I perceive it differently. It ignites something deep within me; it’s like fuel for my existence. Meat is what defines and drives everything about me. It was only fitting that my restaurant specialised in meat.
What makes Günaydin different to other steakhouses?
Our presence spans various regions globally, with numerous branches established. One such location is Bahrain, where we have successfully operated for over a year. We are very pleased with the strides we have made to date, but our ambitions extend beyond mere satisfaction.
With a clear trajectory ahead of us, our focus lies on achieving significant milestones in this region. However, this is just the beginning as we aspire to expand further and establish more branches in the near future.
What dishes would you recommend guests try at Günaydin Bahrain?
From Anatolian cuisine to Mesopotamia, one can try a number of dishes at Gunaydin such as the Alinazik, Abagannus, Katmer, and steak. But I especially recommend dishes such as Alinazik and Abagannus, which have been made in Anatolia for thousands of years.
What were some of the biggest lessons you learned while starting the steakhouse?
Animals play a crucial role in our lives; without them, human existence would not be possible. They provide us with essential resources such as meat, milk, and skin—contributions that are priceless. This realization has led me to understand the importance of treating meat as a precious food item: cutting it appropriately, chopping it carefully, and marinating it thoughtfully. By placing great value on this sustenance, I have experienced its positive effects returning to me in various ways.
Imagine hosting a celebrity dinner at your steakhouse – who would be on the guest list and why?
My perspective on famous individuals differs greatly. While artists and models may not hold significant importance to me, I find immense value in scientists who contribute to human welfare by making groundbreaking discoveries or developing life-saving medicines and vaccines. Being in the presence of such remarkable individuals like Edison would be a tremendous honour for me, as serving them food would hold profound meaning. However, on a more general note, it would still be pleasant to have the opportunity to serve celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Apart from engaging with guests at the restaurant, how do you plan on spending your time in Bahrain?
I haven’t had the chance to explore Bahrain thoroughly yet, as my work has kept me occupied. However, given more time, I intend to familiarize myself with this place and perhaps even consider purchasing a house here. We also have plans to expand our branches in Bahrain. This country holds great value for me, and I genuinely hope for its prosperous future!