Chef de Cuisine Noah Gumustekin brings his international epicurean expertise to Sea Island.
By Katherine Duncan
A native of Turkey, Noah Gumustekin began his culinary career in Istanbul, where he worked with chefs from around the world in some of the city’s top restaurants. In 2006, he moved to Florida, honing his skills at hotels and resorts in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He joined the Sea Island team in 2019, where he previously served as chef de cuisine at the resort’s pop-up Sushi Lounge, and is currently preparing gourmet meals at the Oak Room. Here, Gumustekin discusses his background and passion for the epicurean arts.
What inspired you to become a chef?
My story is a little sad, but there’s no shame about it. My father passed away when I was so young, Mom was a single mom, and then we had difficulty getting food when I was a child. When I was 11 years old, I said to myself, “I’m going to be a chef and I’m not going to be hungry again.” By the time I was 17, I had launched my culinary career.
What is your favorite dish at the Oak Room?
Tuna tartare. I love tuna in any shape or form.
What type of cuisine are you most passionate about?
In south Florida, I was the chef for a Japanese restaurant. I went to Japan for training and I found my passion in Japanese cuisine. When I was in Turkey, I worked for chefs from England, Italy, Switzerland and Australia. Since I worked with many chefs, I know many different types of food, but my experience in Japan made me fall in love with that cuisine and that culture. I appreciate the authenticity of it and respect for the ingredients. And the technique is very different. … They lay the fish in a specific way and then they will cut the fish in a particular way. It’s almost like a ceremony.
Do you have a favorite variety of sushi?
Temaki, personalized sushi, is my favorite. Temaki is a hand roll that resembles an ice cream cone with rice and other ingredients inside.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Creation, and making people smile. We had some guests celebrating their anniversary and I led a sushi class for them and another couple. They had a great time, and then they came to the Sushi Lounge, where we made them an extended omakase featuring seven or eight courses, and they loved it. They had such a great time that they extended their friendship to me. I love that as a chef, I have the opportunity to make people so happy and make them feel special. I have tons of stories like that—people celebrating birthdays, or even getting engaged. As I tell my other chefs, for us it’s a regular day, but for our guests, they will remember these special moments forever.