Below is an interview with Syedur Rahman – the owner of Leicester’s most popular buffet restaurant, Chef and Spice! He was keen to share his passion for food and why having the very best kitchen staff is so important to him.
Q. How did you become so passionate about cooking?
S.R.I love to cook. I always have done. I always will do. My love of cooking comes from my childhood where I used to help my mother and sisters prepare our dinners. The process of working together to produce a delicious meal not only brought our family closer together, but also taught me the importance of taking pride in preparing food.
Q. What is the secret behind the delicious food presented in your restaurant?
S.R.I explain to my customers that there are many things that go into creating amazing food. Quality ingredients and great recipes are obviously essentials. However, you can have these necessities yet still not produce great food because the person doing the cooking does not have the quality set of skills and passion to flourish in a restaurant kitchen.
Q. How do you ensure that your staff are the correct people for your kitchen?
S.R. When it comes to the recruitment of my kitchen staff, I am as meticulous as when I recruit my front of house staff. I am lucky to have been blessed with an intuitive instinct when it comes to assessing the qualities of people. As much as great work experience is an asset for cooks looking to work in my kitchens, also of great importance is that I see a genuine passion and love for preparing and cooking food. My cooks care about the food they present, they prepare food for customers that they would enjoy eating themselves.
Q. Are quality chefs who specialise in Indian food hard to find?
S.R. The task of finding great cooks is becoming more and more difficult as time goes on. We are in a situation now where young people do not want careers in cooking Indian food, even though this is a greatly rewarding career. As I explain to the young people (to whom I have done career talks to); what could be better than making people smile by creating fantastic food for them? We need to interest more of the budding young chefs out there; otherwise there will be no more people to learn the art of great Indian cooking from the older generations.
Q. How would you propose we should get younger people into this specialised training?
S.R. By creating bespoke cookery courses in colleges up and down the country, dedicated to teaching the skills needed to succeed in an Indian restaurant kitchen environment. We need a situation whereby we have a plentiful supply of homegrown cooks, enjoying what they do. It is not necessarily a job with unsocial working hours, as many restaurants operate a flexible work timetable.
Q. How do you think this would benefit Indian restaurants across the country?
S.R. Once we have such a programme in place, our great British tradition of enjoying quality Indian food will continue and we will no longer have to rely on importing staff from abroad on short-term work permits that guarantees no stability whatsoever. The creation of these courses must happen sooner rather than later. We don’t want to end up as a nation of curry lovers without any quality curries to enjoy.
Chef & Spice thrive off giving the best to customers – this includes everything from offering fantastic food, to a great overall dining experience. If you haven’t yet tried our award winning buffet restaurant, why not go along next week and let it live up to your expectations!