Refika was born in Istanbul into a large family dominated by medical professionals. Her mother is a native of Cyprus, and her father a native of Nevşehir.
Refika completed her undergraduate studies at Robert College, and has since studied psychology at Koç University and leadership education at London Business School.v
While she was working at Yavuz Turgul’s advertising agency Medina Turgul, she decided to leave the school for her dream of being an advertiser. Because of the Istanbul earthquake, she changed her mind and started her own business on VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and earned her bread for the first time. After graduation, she worked at IF Istanbul Independent Film Festival and at the organization department of Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV). And after that, she worked as a senior executive and general manager in private Doğan Hospital for five and a half years.
Her relationship with kitchen started with making foamy Turkish coffee to the whole family when she was as tall as the oven. She learned the Mediterranean cuisine from her Cypriot mother, aunt and uncles and Central Anatolia cuisine from her father, grandfather, father’s sister and aunts-in-law, who are from Nevşehir. Her palate got better during her visits to her relatives in London. She always looks for different things and when she cannot find any, she wants to do it herself. She tried to figure out the algorithm of foods with her love of mathematics. In one of her interviews, she said “I believe that some people are born to love. I am one of them. In fact, cooking is a simplistic realisation of the act of showing this love”. The fact that she thinks that even a nice view can be made edible is an indication of this passion of hers
Refika lives in Kuzguncuk neighbourhood of Istanbul. Upon the publication of her book, she needed a studio that suits this spirit. Therefore she initiated a long-term renovation in the building that has been idle for 30 years and was built by the Greek architect Simotas in Kuzguncuk. So she created her own dream kitchen studio with the name Refika’nın Mutfağı that hosts different points of view and occupation groups in each square meter of it, and in which people younger than 35 years old are employed and which is just like a nest for the people, who started up their first business thanks to dedication and hard work. Today, people from different occupational groups such as architects, lawyers, advertisers, dancers, tailors and sculptors work together and enjoy a pleasant and collective life in the building.
In October 2011, she started presenting the show Mucize Lezzetler, which was sponsored by Arcelik in her kitchen studio in Kuzguncuk. The show is being broadcast on the weekends on NTV, which is one of the most important national TV channels of Turkey. The facts that each show has a different concept, and that the Turkish cuisine is used in a local and natural way without any limitations make it stand out among other food shows.
Refika, whose greatest dream -with her own words- is “to see a French person making lahmacun in her/his house”, continues to create new recipes by conserving the traditions of the culture of Turkish cuisine and also to push the envelope. She is sharing recipes on food and life.