AlumniFresh take on street food in Reykjavik

Alongside his full-time job as Head Chef at Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel, 23-year old alumnus Mukhtar Kosbayev from Kazakhstan opened a fusion food truck in downtown Rejkjavik in chilly November, 2018.

What made you decide to pursue a culinary degree?

It was a no-brainer for me: ever since I was 7 years old, I’ve wanted to be a chef. When I was little, my Dad managed a restaurant and was cooking all the time. But my love for food was actually passed on to me by my grandparents. I have strong memories of going to the market with Granddad and tasting and trying the fresh produce offered by the different sellers. Then at home we would cook together with my Grandma.

Street food fusion in Iceland

How did you end up in Iceland?

When I was a Term 4 student, I met a chef from Iceland at the International Recruitment Forum. We kept in touch until graduation and I asked if he had a job for me since I had an interest in Nordic/Scandinavian food. I even offered to come work for him for free for a month or two, just to prove myself.

I got the job and a visa, and 2 months after graduation I was in Iceland!

Where did your inspiration for opening Boom Bao food truck come from?

Together with my business partner and good friend Yaroslav Mishankov, who is also a Culinary Arts Academy Graduate, we’d been discussing the idea of doing something on our own for a while. Then a few months ago, Yaroslav went to a large tattoo expo here in Reykjavik, and there was only one food truck outside. The food wasn’t even great but there was a huge queue. That’s when it clicked: there was an open market for this!

Alumni from Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland open food truck

Then one day I told a former colleague about our plans and he offered us his truck standing unused in the parking lot, for free! This is how our idea turned into reality, all thanks to the power of networking!

What type of food do you serve?

We were looking for an original concept and a healthier alternative to the usual burgers and sandwiches in Reykjavik. We chose Asian bao buns because they are hot, tasty and fresh. For the filling, we took our inspiration from Nordic-Dutch cuisine.

Head chef at ION Adventure Hotel in Iceland


How was Boom Bao truck received by the locals?

People loved it! We opened during a big music event here called Reykjavik Airwaves, with musicians coming from all over the world. The city literally doesn’t sleep for 4 days and they need food to keep the party going! There were always crowds in front of the truck and one day an American food critic stopped by. He became an instant fan and was back to eat at the truck 3 times that day!

How do you manage to combine your full-time job with working at your food truck?

To be very honest, it is quite difficult to balance both my main job as a head chef at a hotel and the food truck project, so for now we are not open every day. But with my partner Yaroslav, we do our best to make it work. Whenever we have our days off, we are at the food truck. I must admit, it is a completely different feeling having something of your own. We also have lots of plans for the future, so stay tuned!

You have a video of The Mountain from The Game of Thrones praising your food on Instagram. How did that happen?

4 months after our food truck idea was born, we were stationed outside an expo centre. It was a fitness expo and The Mountain was competing. At some point I saw him just standing there, with only few people around so I invited him to taste our food, and he totally loved it! We asked if we could film his testimonial and he replied: “Oh, I usually don’t do this, but your food is really good, so of course!”


The @thorbjornsson aka The Mountain from @gameofthrones came to try our baos at @iceland_open

A post shared by BoomBao (@boombaotruck) on


What advice would you give to current culinary students?

Learn the basics, learn as much as you can while you are at studying, especially now that you have these great new facilities opened like the Apicius building and the new kitchens.

But the main advice would be this: If you really believe in something, don’t be afraid to do it and don’t listen to anyone who tells you that it’s impossible and you can’t. If you have your goal and you work hard for it, it’s going to happen!

Alumnus from Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland

Mukhtar Kosbaev graduated from Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland in 2016 with a Bachelor of Business in Culinary Arts/Chef Training

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