top of page




March 28, 2023

Mustafa Alzakzok

Chef Mustafa Alzakzok
Photo via SHTROM

From humble beginnings in New York City to achieving culinary fame in Tampa, Florida, the story of self-taught Chef Mustafa Alzakzok is a tale of resilience and determination in the face of adversity. His journey began in 1985 when he arrived in New York City and started working as a dishwasher at Papi's Deli. Mustafa's innate passion for cooking eventually led him to become a chef, and the seeds of his culinary empire began to take root.

Pita City: Where it All Began.
Mustafa decided to embark on his entrepreneurial journey, opening his first establishment, Pita City. This 800-square-foot Middle Eastern eatery set the stage for his unique culinary flair. At the time, no one in the area served shawarma over rice – everyone else opted for wraps. Mustafa, however, dared to be different, serving his shawarma over a bed of perfectly cooked basmati rice.
This innovative approach quickly made Pita City stand out among other Middle Eastern restaurants, drawing in customers eager to taste Mustafa's culinary creations. His success in New York City soon inspired him to take his talents to new horizons.

In 1992, Mustafa moved to Austin, Texas, where he continued to share his passion for food and Middle Eastern culture with the local community. Austin's vibrant and diverse food scene welcomed Mustafa with open arms, allowing him to further hone his skills and introduce the rich flavors of his homeland to a new audience. His dedication to quality and authenticity made Mustafa a beloved figure in the local culinary landscape.

The Birth of Fire Up Halal Grill : A Culinary Sensation

Fast forward to 2022, and Mustafa achieved another milestone by opening Fire Up Halal Grill in Tampa, Florida. The restaurant quickly gained immense popularity on social media, becoming a go-to spot for food enthusiasts craving New York style Middle Eastern cuisine. Fire Up Halal Grill's success is attributed to a combination of factors that set it apart from other eateries.
Firstly, Mustafa's commitment to using the highest quality zabihah halal meat ensures that his customers are getting the best possible product. This attention to detail not only enhances the flavor of his dishes but also caters to the dietary needs of the Muslim community.

Secondly, Mustafa's secret signature spices are a cornerstone of his culinary creations. These family recipes have been passed down through generations, allowing him to infuse his dishes with an authentic and distinct flavor profile. The allure of these secret spices keeps customers coming back for more, eager to experience the unique taste that can only be found in Mustafa's creations.
Lastly, Fire Up Halal Grill's signature white sauce adds an extra layer of depth and richness to Mustafa's dishes. This family recipe has been perfected over the years and adds a tangy, creamy finish that perfectly complements the bold flavors of his dishes.

Social Media and the Rise of Fire Up Halal Grill

Fire Up Halal Grill Tampa
Beef Kebab Over Rice
10k followers instagram

The rise of social media played a significant role in the rapid success of Fire Up Halal Grill. Enthusiastic customers eagerly shared pictures and reviews of their meals, showcasing the mouthwatering dishes and spreading the word about Mustafa's culinary prowess. This organic marketing strategy fueled the restaurant's popularity, making it a must-visit destination for foodies in Tampa and beyond.

The story of Chef Mustafa Alzakzok is an inspiring tale of self-discovery, passion, and determination. From his early days as a dishwasher in New York City to the opening of the now-famous Fire Up Halal Grill, Mustafa's journey is a testament to the power of perseverance and the love for one's craft.


bottom of page