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Interview • 4 minute read

An interview with Michelin Star Chef Aktar Islam

Aktar is a true example of how creativity comes from adversity. He reacted to the impact of lock-downs by developing a way of delivering Michelin-star restaurant quality food even after it’s been frozen, transported anywhere in the UK and reheated.


On top of that he started the Aktar at Home initiative, providing hundreds of meals every week to disadvantaged people in Birmingham.

Aktar Islam Michelin Star Chef

Tell us about your approach to food and how you got to be a chef.

Food has always been an integral part of my life; I know that’s a sentiment that can relate to every human being on the planet, but my life has always revolved around food! I have never really taken part or interest in any sports growing up as I was always preoccupied with food whether that be cooking with my mum or spending time at my father’s restaurant.
At family gatherings, you’d always find me in the kitchen which turned heads as traditionally it was the domain exclusive to the women in the family.

Was it always your aspiration to gain a Michelin star and if so, what did you have to do to gain it?

It was never about the awards and rewards, but I do believe if you’re passionate about what you do then accolades will follow. The experience at Opheem is unlike any other Indian restaurant in the world; the guest’s journey is totally unique; we take a progressive approach. Guests who have dined with us will say that they’ve never experienced flavours from the Indian subcontinent as they have at Opheem.

You pivoted to home delivery as a result of lock-downs. How has this affected your business going forward? How much of your business is now home delivery?

 Aktar at Home was born in 2020 as a response to the pandemic, we were supporting the local community by providing hundreds of meals weekly to local charities. It was also popular with chefs! We’re at the stage now where we have our own space and have created a plethora of new jobs.  We are currently recruiting from the inner city, from areas that have high unemployment levels, our aim is to help some of the city’s young and disadvantaged people into work.

What were the greatest technical or logistic problems you faced when you started home delivery and how did you overcome them?

Dealing with DPD can be very interesting! We also had lots of feedback from customers who wanted to customise their boxes, we’ve now introduced a build-your-own feature and a mini curry box range to give people more choice.

Any food prep tips for aspiring home cooks?

A good knife is essential! A good seasoning can also elevate the simplest dish. My cupboard staple is Chaat Masala, it’s a wonderful seasoning and does everything that salt and pepper would. It’s used a lot in Indian street food dishes as it’s the perfect mix of salty, spicy, and acidic 

Food is going to become a lot more local, there will be a lot of ingredients we will no longer be able to get hold of. Seasonal cooking will become imperative, even for those eating at home.

Food is going to become a lot more local, there will be a lot of ingredients we will no longer be able to get hold of. Seasonal cooking will become imperative, even for those eating at home.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To retire! Also eventually get around to writing a book that I’ve been promising a certain publisher for the past four years!

We’ve read you believe Indian food is the best food for a BBQ. Why is that and what would you recommend? 

Indian cuisine is built around cooking over coals. Using a Tandoor is the most popular method. I love a rack of lamb with a date and sultana marinade – it’s sublime.

Thanks Aktar


TOG X Aktar At Home competition

Win over £500 worth of TOG products & £500 of Aktar at Home Michelin Star Indian food, delivered anywhere in the UK.

We’ve teamed up with Michelin star chef Aktar Islam as he’s quite an inspiration to offer this great giveaway – hurry! competition closes Midnight 25th May.

TOG Hare Chopping Board and Mini Bunka Knife

Comments:

I’ve always been a fan of Indian food since being introduced to it for the first time at the tender age of fifteen, whilst serving in the Royal Navy based in Singapore in the 1960’s. I rarely go a week without having at least one dish.

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