Share your success story with us?
I started my hospitality journey at a very young age; my aim differed from others and that may be a reason of my youthfulness. One of my cousins, who lives in Austria and is running his own restaurant, always talked about his business which inspired me. He offered me hotel management from Austria and my father agreed. But, before taking such a big responsibility I went to Pearl Continental to experience how they work and gained a lot of knowledge, so decided to take this field as a profession. Beginning my career in 1996, I then moved to Austria after working three years at PC Bhurban but returned back soon as a Restaurant Manager. It was hard to settle in the changing environments of the west and east initially, but I managed everything gradually. I introduced a few European cuisines and worked hard to bring that change. I then moved to Karachi and joined Sheraton Hotel, and later moved back and forth from Sheraton to Hashoo hotels until I joined Movenpick Hotel in 2014 and have been associated since as Executive Assistant Manager – Deputy General Manager.
Tell us about your association with Movenpick hotel?
I am associated with Movenpick Hotel for the past 3 and half years, and the best part of working here with them is that they are really flexible. Working in this field since the start of my career, it is very important to have a flexible team and management, and I am blessed to have a great team which is the reason behind our healthy association. The hospitality sector is growing not only in Pakistan, but across the globe and I would love to grow with the industry at large. I joined as the EAM Food and Beverage and being promoted this year, I have more to grow and excel in this field.
What was your part in the growth and development of the hotel? What new changes have you brought to Movenpick Hotel?
The biggest challenge was to create awareness about the brand, since Movenpick Hotel stepped in Pakistan for the very first time, especially when the brand name was conjoined to an ice cream brand. So, this was the main priority initially where we had to struggle as a team, but we stood firm and made our way up. When talking about food and beverages, we had to do a lot for work on that as well; the concepts were old and I felt there was a need to change the whole ambiance and from within. Therefore, we changed the entire interior of Al-Bustan and Lotus court, which we revived as it was closed for over a decade and rebuilt it with a very modern design, keeping the Chinese flavour alive. Currently, we are working on our Lebanese restaurant, Kabab-ji, and it will take 2-3 months to renovate it. It is very important to be updated about new trends, but we have still kept our all-time favourite recipes in our menu too, as food and beverage is always evolving around the customers.
Movenpick stresses a lot on the authenticity of the food? How do you manage to maintain it, local and international guests?
As a hotel we need to focus on international and local guests both. It’s really hard to know what they really want, so the menus are designed accordingly. We have 6 different outlets; Chinese, Lebanese, Pakistani, Italian and a buffet, hence offering different varieties of food. We have our recipe books that we update whenever our menus are updated and keep updating after every food tastings with our chefs, this way one will find a lot of choices within the same menu item.
Share your experience of being a judge of Masterchef Pakistan?
It was an excellent experience being a judge of Master Chef Pakistan. I was lucky that they picked me, I met great people and it made me realize that Pakistan has a lot of talent. The show created a lot of buzz that even my son now wants to become a chef. All in all, the team and contestants delivered the best at what they wanted to do and cook.
Do you get time to cook at home? What is the best creation you’ve made in your kitchen?
Yes, I do cook at home sometimes. I don’t usually follow the recipe, and though I have learnt cooking, I still believe that I am not a chef and only cook the basics.
Does anyone in your family critique on your food?
Yes, my kids. They are the biggest critique that I have.
Your regular comfort meal?
I can eat anything good as long as I enjoy the food.
Your personal favourite restaurant?
If you weren’t a Management person, what would you be?
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I would like to grow with Movenpick, and in next five years I see myself as the General Manager of one of Movenpick’s hotels.
What do you think about the food industry of Pakistan?
Since the time I joined the industry, it has really grown. The choices which were there earlier have really changed and we have adopted a lot of new things with our local or international food. The materials which were not available then are available now. Cooking has become an art and is taken as a proper profession, and since a lot of restaurants have opened now, competition has brought a positive development in the industry.
An important tip or message for the readers?
Just be honest to yourself. Don’t fear, keep on trying and always aim high.