Malik’s of Cookham was nominated for the coveted British Curry Awards – a high profile event dubbed “The Curry Oscars” by former Prime Minister David Cameron.
The awards mark a staple of the gastronomic calendar, and this isn’t the first time that owner Malik Ahmed has been nominated.
The owner – who owns restaurants in Cookham, Gerrards Cross and Marlow – has won the silverware on several occasions, at one point reigning victorious for three consecutive years.
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This year, he is in the running for two awards. His restaurant, on Cookham’s High Street, was nominated for the ‘Best Restaurant in the South East Award’, while his take-out on Station Parade – also in Cookham – was nominated for the ‘Best Takeaway Award’.
His restaurants are incredibly popular in the two counties in which he operates – even big stars flock to eat at Malik.
Heston Blumenthal – a celebrity chef who owns The Fat Duck in Bray – described eating at the Cookham branch as an “extra adventure”, while Dragon’s Den Peter Jones dubbed it “another successful experience”.
It’s not just the stars that have good things to say – the restaurant has four stars on TripAdvisor, with one reviewer calling it “the best Indian restaurant ever”. Another said the food was so good it almost made them “religious”.
But what makes Malik Ahmed’s brand so good? The family business was built on the solid shoulders of its ancestors.
The family had been part of the restaurant business for around 150 years, starting in Bangladesh. As Malik’s great-great-grandfather’s restaurant continues to operate in India, he says the recipe for success remains family and diligence.
He said: “I started my business in 1999, then after three or four years I started my business in Gerrards Cross, then after that I opened my business in Marlow.
“My family has been doing this for 150 years, I’m going back to Bangladesh, where my great-great-grandfather had a restaurant – it’s still there, it’s still working.
“So the profession of restaurateur is in the family, in the blood.
“First of all, I’m the owner and the chef, it’s a little different. Sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes I interact with the customer.
“This restaurant is run by me, my brothers and my children, so it’s a family business.
“We have a very authentic menu and are in a great location in Cookham.
“We provide excellent quality food, we pay attention to every detail, the presentation and quality of the food is always second to none.
“The difference is that I still run my restaurant after 22 years – I’m still at the front desk, looking after my staff, and working with my people.”