Sabbir Karim has combined his job of flying all over the world as a British Airways purser with a love of Indian cuisine, resulting in two award-winning UK restaurants
Sabbir Karim's life as a restaurateur took off in 2005 when he opened Bloomsbury's Salaam Namaste - named after a famous Bollywood movie. It was followed in 2010 by his Camden site Namaste Kitchen, funded through the profits of the first business.
What makes Karim unusual is that he worked as a purser with British Airways' cabin crew for 20 years - a role he still holds today, alongside his business interests. It is a combination Karim has found works well for him, giving him the opportunity to travel the world and try global cuisine, the best of which he then adapts with an Indian twist for his restaurants.
It's this culinary adventure that has helped him to pick up numerous awards as a chef, including Best Innovative Chef 2013, at the Asian and Oriental Chef of the Year Awards 2013.
How it stands out
Karim believes that the appeal of the restaurants stems from his willingness to change and tweak the menus, continually developing the restaurants while retaining what the customers like about them.
''The general message we get from customers is that we are committed, we continuously evolve and develop our product – there is always something enticing on our menu.''
In 2013, spurred on by his award win in 2012, Karim refurbished Salaam Namaste. ''Winning at the Asian Curry Awards in 2012 was motivating, and it brought a lot more responsibility and expectation from customers as well. So we came up with the idea to refurbish Salaam Namaste,'' he says.
The menu also changed, and is now based on the most popular recipes from his travels and a food festival that he ran in 2012.
Karim says: ''It was not majorly expensive because we kept it simple. Salaam Namaste is a neighbourhood restaurant and we have to keep the neighbours happy.''
64 Parkwy, Camden Town,
0207 485 5977
68, Millman Street, Bloomsbury,
London, WC1N 3EF
0207 405 3697
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