Have Turkish celebrity chefs become a new foodie cult? If you’ve followed their antics lately, you might be inclined to say yes, especially if you follow the antics of Burak Ozdemir, aka CZN, who’s definitely one of the contenders for the throne.
Flamboyance is the key to success in their world, and Ozdemir has some great tricks that have helped him become wealthy. As of 2023, Burak Ozdemir has an estimated net worth of $11 million. Before we get to the good stuff, though, let’s take a look at his background and see how he got here.
Ozdemir was born to an Arab family in Yayladagi, which is a small Turkish town near the Syrian border. His father owned a textile shop called Cinzano, which helped lead to Burak’s nickname, CZN (pronounced che-ze-ne). His cooking skills, however, came from his grandfather, who evidently was something of a knife master.
Given the way CZN took to cooking, it was only a matter of time before he opened his own restaurant, which naturally served up traditional Turkish and Middle Eastern dishes. That in turn led to a chain of a half dozen restaurants, most of which are in Turkey, with another in Dubai and Qatar. All of which is impressive but hardly exceptional, but it’s the gimmicks that have put Burak over the top.
He’s notorious for his constant grinning and sense of humor. His various videos have him smiling away while he chops away at ingredients, creating a slapstick routine in which he somehow always manages to come away with all five fingers intact. The way he stares into the camera has led to some people wondering if Ozdemir is blind! Luckily the chef has no issues with his eyesight.
CZN has taken a decidedly “go big or go nowhere” approach to the whole celebrity chef routine. He loves to supersize his dishes, and liberally uses outsized kitchenware and utensils, which is a natural draw for the “let’s make this go viral” crowd.
The dishes are nothing to be sneezed at, either, unless you want an unholy mess on your hands. CZN is best known for his 40-inch kebabs, which he brandishes as if they were a culinary weapon in many of his photos and videos. He also once cooked an entire ostrich, too, so he’s a pretty impressive guy if you happen to think that size matters.
He’s also not shy about mixing it up with his Turkish competitors, either. When asked in an interview if he was competing with Nusret Gokce, aka Salt Bae, he issued this salty challenge: “Nusret represents the society and I represent the people.”
Regardless of who he claims to represent, Ozdemir does an exceptional job growing his bank account. The key to that part of his game is the size of his following – 73.1 million fans on TikTok and 50.1 million followers on Instagram.
As recently as September 2021, he was listed as TikTok’s top celebrity earner, so he’s definitely made some big money days, especially considering that he’s only 29.
Celebrity visitors to his restaurants are a staple of his videos, as is his tendency to grind food fast and roll dough quickly, as he creates his giant burgers, hot dogs and cheese balls. (Yes, you read that right. The man creates giant cheese balls).
It hasn’t all been plain sailing though! In July 2023, CZN filed a $10 million lawsuit against his father Hasan Ozdemir, accusing him of embezzling money and taking on loans through his company, Hatay Medya. Legal proceedings are set to begin in September and in the meantime the chef will be living at home with his mother.
One area in which CZN hasn’t been flamboyant is in displaying his private life, which has stayed very private to date. He’s hinted at being more open about that lately, though, so let’s hope the prospects have big appetites when he invites them to chow down on a romantic date.