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Globe-trotting yacht chef to open modern Turkish restaurant in San Francisco

One of the modern takes on Turkish cuisine at Bistro Ember is the Lamb Mutancana. | Courtesy Deniz Sezer

Chef Deniz Sezer first learned to cook over a wood fire on his family’s farm in rural Turkey. After a globe-trotting career as a private chef on a luxury yacht and inside Michelin-starred kitchens in Spain, Sezer has finally reignited that familiar flame with a restaurant of his own. Bistro Ember, a modern Turkish eatery, soft-opens in Noe Valley on June 15. 

Bistro Ember is a partnership between Sezer and restaurateur Giorgio Yesilyurt, who has opened several restaurants outside of San Francisco. According to Sezer, there are plenty of casual Mediterranean restaurants in Noe Valley—Mesopotamia Kitchen and NOVY Restaurant both come to mind—but he feels that his upscale Turkish cooking fills a void. 

Bistro Ember's Tomato Watermelon Salad dish. | Courtesy Deniz Sezer Tomato watermelon salad

“We want to cook our culture with modern techniques,” he said.

Among a six-course tasting menu and à la carte options, one pearl of Sezer’s offerings is a seafaring spin on a Turkish yogurt soup. Sezer makes his imprint on the traditional starter by adding seared scallops and seaweed and serving the soup in a large scallop shell. 

Other menu highlights include a tomato and watermelon salad with a sesame-studded Turkish bagel called a simit. In reference to the restaurant’s name, Sezer prepares many of his entrées on a Japanese charcoal grill.

After graduating from a culinary high school in Turkey, Sezer became a seafarer himself while working as a private chef on a yacht for two years. The chef made the rounds at Michelin-starred restaurants La Cabra and Quique Dacosta in Spain before landing in Pacific Heights at Chef Alex Hong’s Michelin-lauded Cal-Italian stunner, Sorrel, in 2019. 

Bistro Ember's Gnochini dish. | Courtesy Deniz Sezer

Bistro Ember takes the place of Inle Burmese Cuisine, which moved to the Inner Sunset in January. Sezer told The Standard he’s particularly delighted to be joining Noe Valley’s community of restaurateurs.

“We were lucky to find this place,” he said. “Everyone is so kind.”

Bistro Ember