Elif Günay, Business Development
Elif graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Istanbul’s restaurant management programme in 2016. After graduation she opened an Italian restaurant with some of her fellow graduates. Eventually she accepted a job as a pastry chef at one of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants in the US, and she moved to Miami to work in Boulud Sud restaurant. She worked there for a year and then came back to Turkey, finding work with Metro Gross Market where she still works today. Since 2019 she has been the business development executive for the culinary discovery platform, Gastronometro.
When did you realise you wanted to become a business development executive?
After working in professional kitchens for a while I wanted to extend my knowledge and learn more about the management part of the job. Working in the kitchen has always been a passion for me, but as I am at the very beginning of my career I thought I should see more of the gastronomy sector.
What’s the best thing about being business development executive?
Being an executive for a culinary discovery platform gives me many chances for professional development and continuous learning. As I manage a new project or organize a new event with my team, I learn more and can develop myself professionally.
What are your main responsibilities?
I get together with my team weekly, that consists of the kitchen chefs and business development clerks. We work on long term projects which I lead. For example, right now we are working on brasserie restaurant menu analysis and product development projects. I also work directly with the marketing and sales teams, as I am in charge of the sponsorship and external sales. I also support our education department.
Is there anything that surprised you when starting the role?
I cannot say that I was surprised in a negative way. Honestly I did not expect to learn this much whilst on the job but each day is like a new school day. Also my role in the company required more experience than I had back then, so that made me motivate myself to learn more.
Why did you choose Le Cordon Bleu Istanbul?
I didn’t really know what my role might be after graduation but I certainly knew I wanted to work with food or anything related to it. Le Cordon Bleu was the best option, I chose it without a second thought. Le Cordon Bleu is an iconic institute that is known worldwide, so coming from such a prestigous institute has always been a plus in the professional world.
How did studying the restaurant management programme help you to achieve your current role?
Studying the restaurant management programme allowed me to do both management and kitchen based courses. I could work in any part of the gastronomy sector after graduation since I have the great foundation of knowledge in both areas.
What’s your fondest memory from Le Cordon Bleu?
I have so many great memories from my years at Le Cordon Bleu. I always remember my pastry classes with a smile on my face. I had the best chef instructor, he made me like pastry even more. The classes were always so much fun and very educational at the same time.
Do you still meet with Le Cordon Bleu graduates?
Yes, I am still in touch with many friends of mine from school. I know where they are, what they do and also we try to get together in person from time to time.
What has been the best moment in your career so far? What have been some challenges you’ve overcome in your role?
So far, the highlight of my career was in Miami when I was asked to make a Turkish dessert. I made them a very traditional dessert from my hometown with some personal touches. They loved the dessert and put it on the menu with the original Turkish name.
My biggest challenge was working abroad with the cultural differences. It was sometimes hard to find a common palate but with some observation and some trials, I could understand what they like and I adapted my country’s cuisine to theirs.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
My advice would be not to give up too quickly. We have so many options in the field of gastronomy. You might love gastronomy but think the kitchen is not the right place for you and that’s fine. All they need to do is consider the options and give them a try until you find the best fit.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
There are so many chefs that inspire, and there are some great people I got to meet on my gastronomy adventure. I cannot really name one.
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