AN inspirational entrepreneurial slice of Kurdish cooking delight has parked up in the town centre.

For many hungry eaters between 8.30am and 5pm, they are starting to make a bee-line for a choice of quality beef burgers, all-day breakfasts or Mediterranean and Turkish wraps.

The man they are going to see is Aksen Karaalp who moved to Somerset 10 years ago but has only been in business in the food industry for four months.

When I first saw Silvan’s Van I thought it might be something to do with France; it sounded a French name and there was the van, which was French.

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But, much to my surprise, and to go with the adage ‘you learn something new everyday’, Silvan was, in fact, Aksen’s home town in Turkey.

He described his menu as ‘East meets West’, which is very appropriate when you think where Turkey is in Europe.

Turkey is the last country before you go West and the first you return to when coming back form the East.

And this fusion of ‘East meets West’ is a perfect description of Aksen, his business, his ideas and his dreams for the future.

Before moving to Somerset, Aksen managed and worked in a restaurant in Turkey. It was while there in 2005 he met his partner and now wife.

They stayed in Turkey until 2007, when they decided to move to Bridgwater and start a new life.

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This new life for Aksen included going back to school, the school in question was Brooks University in Oxford.

Aksen wanted to study for his degree in Business management and communication.

Last year, his hard work paid off and he achieved a first class degree.

This helped him get a job and a compliance auditory at Yeo Valley. It was while doing this job he thought about opening up his own business and working for himself.

He carried out his own research and looked at what food venues there were in Taunton.

He saw there was a gap in the market for what are referred to in the press as ‘posh burgers’ or sometimes called ‘gourmet burgers’.

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The menu at Silvan’s Van includes: Classic Cheese beef burger with bacon, cheese and salad; The Boss - a juicy beef burger with bacon, cheddar cheese and salad; Farmer John - beef burger with bacon, pickles, salad, relish and mango; Smoke House - smoky beef burger with smoked bacon, smoked cheese, grilled onions and salad and Big Spicy - beef burger with spicy jalapenos, chilli dressing, raw onions and salad.

Speaking about getting his business off the ground and why he called it Silvan’s Van, Aksen said: “Silvan is the town where I come from in Kurdish Turkey.

"I believe Silvan’s reflects where I come from, who I am and it is authentic. I have been going for four months now and I am enjoying doing gourmet burgers and wraps.

“Everything is cooked fresh and all the vegetables and meat I use are local.

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“The Mediterranean and Turkish wraps reflect where I come from and they are a taste of ‘East meeting West’. It is a chance for people to taste traditional Turkish food.

“What I wanted to give people was something which would compete with other businesses.

“I wanted to give customers good food and give them large portions - what you would call value for money.”

This value means Aksen has what many would consider ‘a long day’. He leaves Bridgwater at 6.30am to get to Fore Street to park the van and get everything set up and ready for an 8.30am opening.

Silvan’s Van is open Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 5pm.

Aksen said: “Nothing is precooked; it’s all made in front of the customer from start to finish.”