10 Questions

10 Questions You Always Wanted to Ask a Kebab Shop Owner

"I made four absolutely huge doners once and this Croatian guy just smashed them all in a row. It was astonishing."

by Matern Boeselager
16 August 2017, 7:45am

Fotos: Lisa Ziegler

This article originally appeared on VICE Germany

A doner kebab is the perfect fast food to save you from blackout drunkenness. In the UK, an estimated 1.3 million kebabs are sold every day – which is impressive, but nothing compared to Germany, where 2.2 million kebabs are consumed daily. Turkish Germans pride themselves on bringing the concept of a kebab sandwich as a fast food to Western Europe, and it's even considered a "cultural symbol of Berlin". Doner in Berlin isn't like you get it anywhere else.

Mind you, however revered the dish might be in Germany, the reality of selling still means serving a load of annoying drunks every weekend. Anil Azik, 22, sells – and, he claims, eats – a significant portion of those 2.2 million German kebabs every day. His family own the Kottiwood kebab shop in Kottbusser Tor, in the heart of Berlin's Turkish community.

I spoke to Anil to find out more about what it's like to serve one of the world's most beloved late-night treats, and what the record number of kebabs is he's seen a person eat in one go.

VICE: Is selling kebabs your dream job?
Anil Azik: Yeah. Eventually I would love to take over from my father as the owner of Kottiwood. That's why I work so hard and try to do exciting things, such as inventing new items for the menu. I recently came up with the chilli cheese kebab, for example.

How do you feel about vegetarians?
To be honest, I don't really understand them – how could anyone say no to all this delicious kebab meat? Occasionally I do eat falafel, but I could never be a vegetarian.

Anil hopes to take over after his father retires.

How handy are kebab sellers with their knives? Like, who would win in a fight between a ninja and a kebab seller?
That's easy – definitely the kebab seller.

What's the worst way anyone has ever behaved in your shop?
Our customers are generally well behaved. But there's a group of guys who often hang out outside, around the corner, selling hash. They really get on my nerves – especially when they try to sell it in the shop. And sometimes, we do get people who take drugs in here. There was once a huge fight right in front of the shop – several people were stabbed. But despite that, I always feel safe in the area because the Turkish community is very close here. All the kebab shop owners around here stick up for each other when one of us is in danger.

Is there anyone you won't sell kebabs to?
Just the drug dealers that we've banned from the shop.


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What's the most kebabs one person has eaten in your shop in one go?
The record in my shop is four. I made four absolutely huge doners once and this Croatian guy just smashed them all in a row. It was astonishing.

Why do you think it is that you hardly ever see women selling kebabs?
I don't really know, to be honest. It's possible that restaurant owners don't trust women to cut the meat properly. Traditionally, they probably assume only men are strong enough to do it.

So there's this persistent rumour that kebab shops put sperm in their sauces. Have you heard that one?
Yes, and I've always found it funny. Is this a badly veiled attempt to ask if we put sperm in our sauces? We don't do that, in case you're wondering.

Kottiwood's doner kebab, which Anil claims is ten times better than any you would find in Turkey.

Have you ever given any thought to the fact that the German order "döner mit scharf" (doner with spicy) doesn't make grammatical sense?
No, I haven't.

Do you think people in Turkey would like the kebabs we get here in Germany?
Turkish food is great, of course, but if I'm being honest, I have to say that the döner here is ten times better than in Turkey. Berlin kebabs are the best in the world.