Footpatrol and Crocs Meet Big Has

Crocs and Kitchens tend to go hand in hand. A go to for those whether they’re seeking all day comfort or on their feet all day, you often find a pair of Crocs in any kitchen around the world. Taking a fun approach on this, we caught up with one of our favourite and definitely coolest London based chefs, Big Has otherwise known as Hasan Semay.

We popped over to his pop-up over in Islington called Sessions where he’ll be dishing up some absolute delights, many inspired by his Turkish-Cypriot background.

Take a closer look below at when we caught up with Hasan and shop Crocs here!

Footpatrol: Yes Hasan, great to finally meet you! Firstly, we must add an apology from the get go in case we get distracted by you whipping up some delicious grub! 

Could you perhaps give our audience a bit of a trip into your past and how you ended up where you are today?

Hasan: so I’m Hasan, aka big Has. Been a chef for 11 years. Started off as a Jamie Oliver’s fifteen student and been cooking ever since really. Today we’re in sessions a pop up I’m sharing with 2 talented chefs until early January next year.

FP: Must’ve been an insane moment and an equally insane journey being part of Jamie Oliver’s ‘15’  programme back in 2011, could you tell us a bit more about how that came about? 

Hasan: My mum basically, she saw that I wasn’t happy being a security guard. I’d spent a lot of my childhood watching cooking shows. Whilst kids were running home to watch ‘Hey Arnold’ and ‘Doug’, I was rushing back to catch Ainsley shakes his suzy salt. 

FP: We need to thank you too for delving into the world of Youtube, your ‘Sunday Sessions’ have gone down a storm and all the office team at Footpatrol tune in! 

Were these face to face walk through’s something you’ve always wanted to share? 

Hasan: I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t in the grand scheme of things. I knew I always wanted to be involved In food, I knew I was always gonna pass on what I learnt to my peoples, so I guess it’s just happened naturally. In some ways lockdown was a blessing for me and George. Everyone had consumed everything on Netflix. We’d seen our crazy cousins across the pond in tiger king, we’d watched Micheal Jordan run rings around people, and everyone had seen the pretty shit end to line of duty. So when Sunday sessions dropped it felt like the right time and it was recieved well by people. 

FP: What’s your earliest memory of home cooked food, did this spark a love of food do you think? Bless her, my mum wouldn’t ever claim to be a chef but I always remember her slaving away making bolognese for the family! 

Hasan: We were constantly around food as kids, dad on the bbq, mum cooking home cooked meals every night for dinner. I’ve got loads of food memories but the stuff mum cooked for us as kids was always great. Wether it be Turkish dishes or dad wasn’t home she would secretly cook us gammon dinners. My earliest memories change from time to time, but there’s defo significant ones. Mum making me coronation chicken on my birthday, my sister making a tart and getting it wrong and it tasted like an omelette, my dad frying prawns in the garden with scotch bonnets and spring onions. I feel like the love for food was always there I just hadn’t figured out it was my thing yet. 

FP: Your Turkish-Cypriot heritage plays a lot of inspiration when it comes to your recipes, what is it about this part of the world and it’s food that inspires you so much?

Hasan: It’s home man. It’s the food we grew up on. Cypriot food is very humble, food of necessity and we don’t really have a food scene. The best food is made in family homes and shared between the village. I found that when I started at 15 there were loads of similarities with Italian and Turkish food and then I guess I just started questioning food and looking more into heritage and culture. 

FP: Also, we must say a huge congratulations on the launch of your first book. We’ve been eager to get our hands on it since it finally launched. Is this something you’d like to follow up on whilst your influences grow?

Hassan: thank you, do you know what, I never thought I’d be a chef let alone author. I left school with 2 GCSE’s and pretty much thought only the academically privileged kids would get opportunities to write. I’m actually writing book 2 at the minute, I can’t go into major detail but I think it’s a topic that a lot will relate to and others will be educated by. But basically if I can write a book a year, travel, shoot travel docs and eat I’m living the dream. 

FP: At Footpatrol, we’re always recommending our customers or brands to local eateries close to us within our community, what would be your five go too places to eat? 

Hasan: PERILLA IS A MUST, beautiful spots I’ve been a few times, Ben is super talented and it’s great food without being intimidating. 

Popollo in Shoreditch, Jon took me under his wing when we worked at Theo Randal’s together. He’s a half Italian, half Spanish London boy and when he isn’t cooking he’s break dancing or kick boxing. One of the nicest people I’ve ever met and then there’s his pasta. Phenomenons. 

WHERE EVER ELLIOT CUNNINGHAM IS COOKING YOU MUST GO. IVE BEEN TELLING ELLIOT FOR YEARS HES A WIZARD BUT HE WONT ADMIT IT. 

Being Turkish I’m always asked “where’s the best kebab” and for me it’s mangal 1 Arcola street. Get the mix for one, spicy ezme, smoked aubergine and grilled onions. It’s no thrills, but always consistent. 

Xian impressions is another we go to a lot, diectly across the road from the arsenal stadium, I’m not the biggest fan of sczehuan but there’s soo many beautiful things on the menu. Cold chicken, wood ear fungus, dressed cucumbers and these like little panini pressed pulled Chinese pork burger things. Mental. It’s tight in there and you’ll have to que but it’s never let us down. Not once. 

FP: Since the pandemic, we’re noticing a lot more places pop back up with people doing some amazing things! Last year, we caught up with a good friend of yours and ours Elliott Cunningham. How is it from Chef to Chef, do you find people collaborating more in these times or bouncing off each other? 

Hasan: I don’t often do pop ups and I should, I get in my own head about things and convince myself I’m not good enough, I’ve got huge respect for guys like Elliot who just cook how and when they want. I’d love to do something with el, it would be great and we both share the same love for bbq. The pandemic birth loads of great things, big mommas samosa’s, lings lings, and my boy Tom who’s selling the fucking most delicious seafood boils at decatur. Honestly buy one. 

FP: So, one of the reasons we’ve come down to your kitchen at Sessions in Islington is to get you in a pair of Crocs. They’re often found within the kitchens of the world so we’re excited to get them on feet with you. They’re the perfect kitchen crep right? 

Hasan: Yeah i spent all my career in crocs, wearing them until they were leaning like uggs. Super comfy. it’s mad how they’ve become so trendy, customising them yourself or even a wu tang collab. I used to get rinsed for wearing them and being a size 14 they were almost a novelty size. Personally I feel like there’s a space for one of the leaders in the crep game to bring out a non slip steel cap ting. I’d love to be the face of it but I’ve gotta keep my cards close to my chest. 

FP: Well, thank you so much for joining us, 

Big love guys thank you x 

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