Sermet Aslan was born to a family of bakers in 1961 in the ancient mountain village of Amasya, Turkey. His family members were Bektashi Dervishes with lineage dating back many centuries with connections to various other Sufi orders. After losing both his parents at a young age, Aslan was comforted by a family friend telling him, "A true Dervish is a beggar for knowledge."
With that, he left Turkey to work in the kitchen of a cargo ship and travelled throughout Europe and Russia. He met his American wife, Celia, back in Turkey and the couple eventually settled in Charleston, South Carolina with just $300 in savings. "Directed by an inner compass," Aslan sharpened his cooking skills and opened Sermet's Corner, a gourmet restaurant, on fashionable King Street. It proved to be very popular, as customers enjoyed his inventive dishes and his paintings adorning the dining room walls.
After studying Sufism and embracing elements of Buddhism, "I found that I could best express my spiritual experiences through art," says the self-taught Aslan. "Now, I wake up for others' happiness. Giving is the best receiving."
Aslan sold Sermet's Corner in 2011 and can usually be found at his latest restaurant, Sermet's Courtyard, on Daniel Island, South Carolina.