ISLAMABAD: Everyone wants to follow their passion but only a few have the courage to embark on the career of their dreams. Similar is the journey of Mian Saqib, who left his cushy nine-to-five job as a sales and marketing manager in Dubai to become what he always wanted to — a chef.
Today, Saqib works as the head chef at Islamabad’s casual fine dining restaurant Suuri Ruoka where he puts his talents to work on a daily basis. His areas of speciality are Mediterranean, Italian and Pakistani cuisines and his fusion Pakistani dishes are his most innovative ones.
He artistically serves makhni chicken, biryani and spinach in small palm sized portions in neat circular stacks, lamb chop with potato cakes and fish on a bed of mushroom and potato, making desi food more of a luxury. He wants to introduce this trend to Pakistani market as he sees potential here.
Saqib developed a love for cooking at the age of five but ended up in the corporate world. It was when he was in Dubai working for a hotel division that he met a Hyderabadi chef and got inspired to push his passion further. He decided to leave his job and moved to New Mexico in US to get a six month certification in culinary arts. After getting the certification, he worked as an apprentice in Maryland at the Best Western where he also did catering, independently.
“I was catering to 50 people in the US when they asked me to cook Pakistani food. I gave Pakistani cuisine a western ring. Using peppers I made karahi, barbeque, tikka, Lahori pulao and kheer in small portions. They loved the food so much that I became their regular caterer,” he said. With shining optimism and enough work experience, Saqib returned to Pakistan and worked at the famous Ciro’s Pomodoro. He then ventured on opening up his own restaurant in a partnership by the name of Olive Grill. However, the partnership became mired in conflict and the restaurant had to close down. He then took up the offer of working as a senior executive chef at Café Aylanto, before taking on his present job.
“My recipes are a blend of Pakistani spices, imported ingredients, fresh local seasonal vegetables and different types of cooking methods that make food exotic and aromatic,” said Saqib.
Saqib believes that Pakistani food is nutritionally very well balanced as compared to the western packaged diet. Of course, the portions you choose for your plate make a difference.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.
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