Executive Chef/Owner, Ana Sortun
Cited as one of the country’s “best creative fusion practitioners,” by the New York Times, Seattle-born Ana Sortun graduated from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine de Paris before opening Moncef Medeb’s Aigo Bistro in Concord, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s. Following stints at 8 Holyoke and Casablanca in Harvard Square, she opened Oleana in 2001, immediately drawing raves for dishes that The New York Times described as “rustic-traditional and deeply inventive.” Awarded the “Best Chef: Northeast” honor by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, her cookbook, SPICE: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, was published in 2006 and has become a bestseller.
In 2008, Sortun and business partner Maura Kilpatrick opened Sofra Bakery. They envisioned an informal Middle Eastern café and retail store, which would feature Maura’s pastries, savory selections, house-made pantry delicacies, and carefully selected artisan products from around the world.
In the autumn of 2013, Ana partnered with her long-time Chef de Cuisine, Cassie Piuma, in opening Sarma, a traditional Meyhane (Turkish tavern-style) restaurant and bar in Somerville, which features an entire menu of Meze, or ‘small plates.’
Throughout her culinary career, Sortun has demonstrated a strong commitment to high-quality, local, fresh produce. Her husband, Chris Kurth, owns a farm in the Sudbury River Valley, just outside Boston. Siena Farms provides fresh produce to all three Oleana Restaurant Group locations, and is named after the couple’s daughter.
Executive Pastry Chef/Owner, Maura Kilpatrick
After receiving a graduate certificate in baking at the California Culinary Academy, Maura moved back to her hometown and worked for many of Boston’s top chefs including Lydia Shire, Moncef Medeb, Rene Michelena and Ana Sortun. In 1999, she opened two bakeries shortly thereafter with High-Rise Bread Company.
In 2001, she reunited with Sortun to develop the concept for Oleana. It was at that time that Maura fell in love with the exotic flavors and spices for which she is now known. In August 2008, when the culinary duo opened Sofra, Maura had the opportunity to craft dozens of unique bakery offerings and sweet pantry products. Through extensive research, experimentation, travel and “homework,” Maura has perfected her award-winning Middle-Eastern pastries; integrating typical ingredients from the Eastern Mediterranean such as orange blossoms, tahini, rose petals, kaymek and kadayifi. She creates contemporary versions of traditional desserts from Turkey, Egypt and beyond.
Alison Arnett of the Boston Globe writes, “Maura Kilpatrick’s creations are dazzling, and often reflect the origins of the dishes on the savory side.”
Maura has been recognized with flawless reviews by local press and magazines and has distinguished herself as an Executive Pastry Chef and Bakery Owner. She was voted Boston’s Best Pastry Chef in 2002, 2007-2009 and 2011. Sofra Bakery was also awarded the distinction of Boston’s Best Bakery in 2009, also by Boston Magazine.
Chef de Cuisine, Didem Hosgel
Chef de Cuisine Didem Hosgel comes to Sofra originally from Adana, Turkey. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics & Accounting in Turkey and continued her studies when she arrived in Colorado, 14 years ago. Didem comes from a traditional Turkish family where cooking from scratch and preparing food for family members was an ongoing and cherished practice.
New to the U.S., looking to improve her English language skills, the Turkish native got her culinary start in local restaurants in the Colorado Springs area. She began as a server, moved into management, and started on a path towards culinary excellence by working with local caterers and private chefs in the area; cooking for private events.
After a brief stint working in catering down in Florida, Didem moved up to Boston 4 years ago, and started in the kitchen at Oleana; mastering the various roles of prep cook, Garde Manger, and eventually the grill. Didem worked under Chef de Cuisine Cassie Piuma, and learned from both Cassie and Chef Ana Sortun, as they mentored her culinary development. She pursued formal culinary studies at Cambridge Culinary School, and melded her intuitive knowledge of Turkish cuisine with technical skill; supported by a number of years in the kitchen at Oleana. Didem became the Chef de Cuisine at Sofra in 2013.