In Fair Lawn, New Jersey, ADA Mediterranean Brasserie stands as a testament to Chef Erhan Gezer’s American dream. This dream had a modest start, landing at New York’s JFK Airport with just $80 and a heap of debts.
Culinary Empire: Chef Erhan Gezer’s American Dream
Culinary Maestro Erhan Gezer began in a five-star Cyprus hotel. However, his foundational skills were crafted at his uncle’s food plant in Osmaniye, Turkey. Here, he learned to manage the preparation of up to 3,000 daily meals, specializing in meze dishes. His flair for creativity earned him the “Chef of the Year” award in istanbul 2011, notably for his artful Sea Bass Presentation (Rapunzel).
Upon relocating to the U.S., Gezer saved money through a job at a local Turkish restaurant and sharpened his English skills through language courses. He then acquired a previously operating business, Istanbul Café, situated in a predominantly Jewish and Russian community in Fair Lawn.
Gezer remarks, “My choice was guided by the community’s existing affinity for Mediterranean flavors.”
Since taking the helm at ADA, the restaurant’s business has skyrocketed, increasing sevenfold. A culinary maestro in crafting unique mezes, he particularly recommends his Adana Special. A meal for two at ADA generally costs between $70 and $100. “My early meze work at my uncle’s set the stage. In hotels, I expanded my range, mastering all kitchen aspects,” says Gezer.
ADA remained buoyant even during the pandemic, courtesy of its delivery and takeout services. As for selling ADA, Gezer says it’s out of the question: “This restaurant is my first love.” He continues his passion as Chef Gezer and as a founder and partner of Azure The Greek in Morristown in September 2022.
Born in 1984, Gezer has been in the food sector for an extended period. “My journey began in childhood, herding sheep and working in a bakery at age 13,” he shares. Originally from Bingöl, Turkey, he relocated to Osmaniye in 1998. Following a catastrophic earthquake in Turkey, he stayed in the devastated area for a month, providing thousands of daily meals through establishments in Osmaniye and K.maras
Chef Gezer has become renowned for his exceptional mezes and artistic dish presentations. Under his stewardship, ADA’s business has blossomed, and his Adana Special has become a signature offering for diners.