A well renowned hookah connoisseur and blogger based in Turkey, Arif Tavukçuoğlu, operates popular hookah channels on Youtube and Twitch, providing hookah reviews and training to newcomers. He’s even been a guest juror on Hookah Battle. Not a bad resume, right?
Tune in to our latest F-File where we learn more of Arif’s story and career in hookah as well as what hookah culture in Turkey is like today.
NAME: Arif Tavukçuoğlu
OCCUPATION: Hookah Master / Blogger / Videographer
FAVORITE QUOTE? Nargile hepimizin ( "Shisha is all ours" )
FIRST HOOKAH EXPERIENCE? When I was in high school (20 years ago), I was introduced to hookah after we went to a book fair. They were serving hookahs inside a tent. The first tobacco flavor I tried was strawberry by Nakhla.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE HOOKAH INDUSTRY? My career in hookah started with a suggestion from my cousin to turn my hookah knowledge into a blog. At first, we started to visit hookah lounges under the name Nargile Puan, rating the hookahs. Then we decided to move into the industry’s serving/catering business and started to provide outsource services to hookah lounges. Based on everything I’ve tasted and seen, from my experiences traveling, I started to make my own hookah mixtures. Now I’m working on learning more about the equipment and examining the alternatives, and also giving hookah training to newcomers who want to enter the industry. I do reviews, videos, educational broadcasts, and tutorials about the hookah industry on Twitch, Youtube, and Instagram.
FAVORITE LOUNGE? John Calliano Lounge and Hookah Place Rockstar (both Moscow)
FAVORITE HOOKAH SETUP? If I'm having something classic, it'll probably be an Elmas Nargile hookah with foil and oak charcoal on a Classic Turkish Bowl. If I'm in the mood for a particularly heavy session, it'll be a Hookah John 80 ft Espana over foil with provost, or an upgrade on classic with a Lotus 2 and 2 charcoals.
WHAT’S HOOKAH CULTURE LIKE IN TURKEY (FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN)? Hookah culture in Turkey dates back 400 years. We start smoking and get our first hookah at the age of 18. In our country, especially the classic flavors like Nakhla/Alfakher Double Apple, Alfakher Grape, Nakhla Capi are among the most consumed flavors, but with the development of the industry, comes an increase in the variety of flavors, brands, and products. As the industry rapidly changed shape, expectations and demands changed too. While there were only a few brands and flavors for people to choose from 5 years ago, hookah smokers can now pick from hundreds of different flavors. You could say that the hookah industry in Turkey is in its early stages, with much room to grow.
ADVICE FOR ANYONE JUST GETTING STARTED (IN THE INDUSTRY) NOW? The first thing I would say to those who are new to hookah is don't be afraid to explore: play with different setups, different equipment, and different flavors - all of it will give different experiences for sure. It is an industry that continues to evolve day by day.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT HOOKAH SMOKING? I like to share stories with my friends while smoking. Smoking hookah alone never gives you pleasure; what makes hookah smoking enjoyable is the social aspect of it, the friendships and the conversations, and the feelings that come with it. The hookah pipe is made out of metal, glass, and water, and without the conversation, it doesn't mean much.
The last thing I can say is that we all live in the same world. Some of us say nargile, some say Kalyan, some hookah; but there is one thing that does not change even if the language, belief, skin color, and race changes - despite everything, the "Shisha is all ours".