Award Winning bartender, Cihan Anadologlu, wrote the first German cookbook dedicated to Döner Kebab. In Einmal mit Alles, Anadologlu, recounts the story of the origin of the Döner in Germany. We talked with him about his book, his craft kebab restaurant in Münich and his passion for evolving the döner.
Q: Why did you write a cookbook about the Döner Kebab?
A: Because it didn’t exist. You could find books about burgers, pizza, hot dogs, donuts and all kinds of fast food, but the most popular fast food in Germany still didn’t have a book of its own. My family comes from an area of Türkiye, Bolu, where food plays a great role and so it’s always played a big part of my life. I’ve traveled to Turkey and met with numerous food historians and chefs to learn more about the history and background of the döner. I think you need to know the background of a product to make a good version yourself. And also, if you want to influence the future of the döner, you need to know about its past.
Besides telling the story of the Döner I wanted to make döner 2.0 recipes for the readers. We all know the classic döner with meat, sauces, tomatoes, cucumber and some kraut, but why shouldn’t we try to mix that up? So my book has recipes with mushrooms, fruits, truffles or wagyu beef.
Q: The book came out in 2020. How was it received?
A: I think many people had the same thought as me “Where is the döner cook book?”. So it was very well received by the readers. It was awarded the German Cook Book-Awards Gold Medal the same year, so apparently both buyers and critics liked it. If we compare a döner with a burger, it’s basically two pieces of bread with meat in between. You could find numerous burger books, but none about döner. Just to make the meat for a döner far exceeds the time you need to do a burger, so in my book you find 50+ different versions of döner, from classic to real high-end. Still today I sell the book in my restaurant in Münich and I have to order new books every second month.
Q: After you published your book you opened a döner restaurant in Münich. Did you learn something new about the döner from running a restaurant?
A: O boy, yes! Now I could write a book about how to run a döner restaurant. It is really hard work, back braking. I have learned so much, also about the price of producing a döner, from when you turn on the lights until you serve the first customer. If you sell a döner for 4-5 € then people are being exploited somewhere in the process and or the quality of the meat is questionable. At the same time, when you buy a döner for that price, you are contributing to that process. The classic döner costs 8,50€ in my restaurant and we are talking about the prices actually being too low.
I think we need to educate ourselves in Germany in regard to what we eat and what we find pleasure in. I come from the bar-scene where people happily pay 14€ for a Gin Tonic. What’s in that? And then people think they can get a high quality meal for less than half of that. When we go out, we are ready to spend a lot on drinks, but when it comes to how we enjoy food, we lack the willingness to pay for quality.
That said, I know not everybody can afford to pay 8,50€ for a quick meal and even the cheaper döners play an important role in our society. But my stake in this game is to level up on the quality of food and offer a higher standard of döner.
Q: What’s up with the name, Hans Kebab, where does that come from?
A: The name comes from my name, Cihan, and originally I thought of calling the restaurant Cihans Kebab. But I wasn’t satisfied with the looks of it and thought ‘Hans is close to Cihan and also a prototypical German name. With Hans Kebab we tell the story of how the döner is a German-Turkish product with a history that is inseparable from each other.
Q: So now you’ve written about döner and opened a restaurant, are you done with döner?
No way. I still see a lot of potential for improvements. It’s still my goal to elevate the döner to a new level and we are not quite there yet. I love to be in the shop, to cut the meat, assemble the döner and talk to the customers. They often come with questions or ideas that help me evolve my thoughts about the döner. So no, I’m not at all done with döner.