‘I have a real big problem with conforming,’ says YouTube sensation Hasan Semay, known to his loyal fanbase as Big Has due to his lofty 6’6” frame. ‘I just like to do things the way that I like to do them… without sounding like an arrogant, tattooed chef, obviously!’ Since the start of this year, Hasan – who in 2019 opted out of the restaurant world after over five years at the pass – has been doing just that, heading up his super popular Sunday Sessions video series. Every other week and in all weathers you’ll find him cooking up highly buff dishes in his back garden in Edmonton. From 7UP-brined poussin and classic Roman carbonara – no cream and no ham, thank you – to Turkish lahmacun, Hasan’s easy-going BBQ recipes combine his Turkish-Cypriot heritage with an Italian influence gained via some of London’s swankiest kitchens, including now shuttered Clerkenwell favourite, Palatino, where he was head chef.
Occasionally he’ll be accompanied on camera by his scene-stealing dad, Kamil, who Hasan lovingly refers to as the Turkish Robert De Niro. ‘He got stopped in Barclays bank a couple of months back,’ chuckles Hasan. ‘Two girls asked him for his autograph, but he told them he wasn’t signing any papers. Secretly he loves getting recognised though.’
After working as a plumber and a security guard at the Hayward Gallery, when Hasan was in his early 20s he beat out hundreds of other applicants to secure a place as part of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen apprenticeship programme. Jamie remains one of Hasan’s biggest supporters, regularly commenting on his videos to call him ‘an utter legend’.
Aside from leaping a garden fence in Enfield, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled if you want to taste Big Has’s fabulous fire-cooked food. His last outing was at carnivore carnival Meatopia, where he rocked up with a bunch of guys he went to school with to cook gargantuan amounts of juicy cop sis tantuni. ‘It’s basically a Turkish taco,’ he explains. ‘Tacos do really well at Meatopia because everyone wants something portable that they can eat while they’re pissed.’
Has’s debut cookbook ‘Home’ is out Jun 2 2022 on Pavilion Books.