European Spotlight: Hüseyin Özdemir
What do you think about working outside in the German winters?Oh, it’s not good. I don’t like that. It’s too cold. It’s raining and I have to stay eight, nine, maybe 10 hours out here.
How do you stay warm out here for that long?I got two T-shirts, one pullover, the uniform from the company, a jacket, a scarf. I hope it’s going to be warm enough. Sometimes I just walk over to the doner (kebab) place and try to get warmed up if people aren’t here. But most of the time I’m here.
Can’t you just stand next to the grill?It’s too smoky.
How’d you end up in a gig like this?I worked for the boss here before. I just finished school, sort of like American college, and I have to do my German military time, but not yet. That’s why I’ve got the time to work here.
Are you a pretty good grill meister?OK. I’m not so good, but I’m OK.
Is this the closest thing you can get in Germany to a New York City hot dog stand? Not really. This is a German thing. It’s all bratwurst or something. It’s not like if you go to New York and get a hot dog. It’s not like that.
Does that mean the customers don’t call you names if you don’t pile on enough mustard or sauerkraut? No. Most of them are nice.
What’s a busy day like? On Fridays and Saturdays it’s the busiest. In an hour maybe 30 or 40 people come through. It’s hectic because you have to look if the fire is on, is meat already there, is bread there, is the topping stuff there. Then you’re taking care of people. So, it’s a lot of things to do.
Does anyone come to relieve you when you have to, you know, take care of business? No, there are no breaks. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. nobody’s coming around to eat, so I have time to eat, drink, go to the, um, other rooms.
Do you have a lot of repeat business? Yeah. Oh, they like the steaks and they come every day.
What’s the most popular thing you sell? The pork steak sandwich. On a Saturday, we sell maybe 80 or 100 of them. …
So you said you have to do some time in the military. Will you get to hit any fun places like Afghanistan? No, no, no. I’m just staying here in Germany.
When you get done with that, are you coming back and grill, or are you heading off to bigger things? The military is just nine months. After that I want to do training at the bank, and then train to get into economics.
Are you going to come back and buy this place when you get rich? Maybe, but I don’t think so.
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Hometown: Mannheim, Germany
Title: grill meister at Sahin’s Grillteam
Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.