WHILE the restaurant name may provoke thoughts of rap music and nasty language, a growing number of Perth food lovers know Eminem as the home of quality Turkish cuisine.
Located just off Leederville’s Oxford Street, Eminem came to life almost two years ago when eastern-States based Ismail Tosun (affectionately known as Ish) moved to Perth to start his own restaurant.
But Ish was not an unfamiliar face to those in hospitality. On a working holiday in 1996, he spent time with Chris Taylor and Brad Ford at Fraser’s, all up enjoying 18 months of the west coast’s unique lifestyle.
He returned to Melbourne but decided to head back two years ago to join his family and start up his own restaurant.
“My parents were coming back to Australia in 1996. They were in Perth on holidays and they liked the place so much that they bought a house here,” Ish says.
“When they said they were coming back my wife and I said we’d come over again and give it a go.
“I didn’t find any Turkish restaurants here besides kebab shops so I wanted to do this in Perth. In Melbourne and Sydney there are lots of them.
“We thought we’d do something new and initially I found it very hard because I had to try and understand the Perth market.”
The first-ever customer for Ish’s new business was Altos creator Stephen Scaffidi.
“I had no staff, my mum and I were cooking and I was waiting on the tables,” he says. “It was the first day of business and I was so busy trying to do everything so you forget about things like lights being too high. We’ve adjusted that now.
“He [Scaffidi] did ask me to dim the lights. I had no idea it was him at the time. As he was leaving he introduced himself and he said the place was great.
“He also said that there was too much food and it was too cheap.
“And he is right, but I don’t have the capital for this to fail. It’s taken me 12 years to save up money to do something like this and I am married and I have a family. It is a risk and I need to make it work.
“Our prices are very good. For $30 our customers get quality food and walk out of here full. We do everything here daily. I am here at 10am and we don’t open until 6pm. We do everything from dips to making the bread.”
And with the likes of Kate Lamont and Star Bistro’s former head chef Bruce Chapman (who is currently in Canberra) among Eminem’s regular diners, it is fair to say that the fare is good.
“Bruce Chapman was here about once a month or whenever he could get a night off from his own place,” Ish says.
And with helpful advice from Perth’s hospitality pros, Ish has been able to make a successful establishment out of his small site on Carr Place.
“Chris Taylor and Brad Ford have been really good to me. In the beginning [setting up Eminem] I would talk to them three times a week for advice,” Ish says.
“See, I was a chef and I had no idea about front-of-house or administration. They gave me some really good advice. Steve Scaffidi has been a huge support and so have a lot of other people.”
And it seems application of the advice, some hard work, and quality Turkish cuisine has created a buzz among Perth’s foodies.
“We are full just about every night. People have to make bookings now,” Ish says.
“We could open another place or go somewhere bigger but there are other options. I could put on wine but at the moment it’s going well.”
And as for the origins of the Eminem name, Gusto is pleased to say it has nothing to do with Ish’s musical taste.
“‘Emine’, Eminem without the ‘m’, is a popular female name in the Middle East,” Ish says.
“It is my mother’s name and you add the ‘m’ and it means ‘my emine’ which is my mum.”
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