If you’re a regular meal goer in Lancaster, you probably know Naim Munshi, or he knows you. Along with Lancaster University, the historic Lancaster Castle, beautiful Ashton Memorial, Lancaster City Museum, pleasent Storey Gallery and other places of interest, this exuberant and energetic chef has put Lancaster on the map with his passion for serving meals that are truly memorable.
Since leaving the position of Retail Assistant in a family grocery store in the mid-80’s, Naim has breathed new life into Lancaster’s restaurant scene. He’s done this by keeping focused on the cuisine and quality of service provided by him and those around him.
Starting his culinary career as an Assistant Chef he learnt his trade in the busy, bustling kitchen of Moghul’s restaurant in Lancaster. With the opening of the Sultan of Lancaster in 1990, Naim took the mantle of Head Chef and has since grown in stature and respect within restaurant peers and the local community. He has not only reperesented the Sultan of Lancaster but has represented the North West in many regional and national competitions.
Naim’s lifelong passion for cooking is a tribute to his older brother, Usman Munshi, who encouraged him to cook and move away from the family-run grocery shop where he worked as an assistant.
Naim advises people intending to take the challenge of Indian cooking home, to use fresh ingredients, have everything ready beforehand and never say ‘it’s too difficult’.
We took the opportunity to ask the ‘hottest’ chef in the North West some personal questions.
1. What is your earliest memory?
My first day at Dallas Road School. My teacher was a very nice lady called, Mrs. White. We still keep in touch and talk about those times.
2. What was your first job?
Working in the family business in Blades Street – a grocer’s shop. I used to stack shelves. Being small I had to stand on a box to reach the till.
3. If you were not in your present job, how would you be earning a living?
Supplying Asian food products to the supermarkets or working in the catering industry. But it would have to be operating as part of a family enterprise.
4. What is the single most important attribute in the workplace?
Quite simply – common sense.
5. What is the most under rated virtue?
Sincerity, passion and dedication. People need to be focused, whatever trade or business they work in.
6. Over rated vice?
I am always picking and nibbling at food. I’m sure it’s not good for me but I suppose it goes with the job.
7. What’s your top time-saving tip?
Think first. Don’t just dive in.
8. What is your favourite time of day?
Waiting for the children to come home from school. I have twin sons and two daughters. After spending some time with them it’s off to the Sultan kitchens.
9. What is your favourite TV Programme(s)?
I enjoy putting my feet-up and watching BBC and ITV cookery programmes like Ready Steady Cook or Hell’s Kitchen. I admire and respect chefs like Lloyd Grossman, Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay, Ainsley Harriot, Sophie Grigson, Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein to name a few!
10.What is your wish for the future?
That Allah (God) provides continued success in the days to come. At the same time keeping in perspective, what is meant to be is meant to be as Allah wills it. Without the guidance of Allah we can not do anything.