There’s a popular saying, which states that ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’ It’s an inspirational phrase which is often bandied about on social media sites like Instagram and Twitter.
However, for Manoj Kumar, Suresh Meesha and Suresh Gautum, it’s more than just a popular hashtag. When they put their heads together in order to start a restaurant and catering business in 2016, they found that together, they had all the right ingredients to make it an award-winning success…
When the trio first started ‘Chef’s Flavour’, the business began solely as a catering service. However, success soon followed and they decided to open a restaurant on Leicester’s Memory Lane. After years of hard-work and exceptional service, it became so popular that they were prompted to open a second in order to satisfy demand, and cater for an overspill of hungry customers.
Chef’s Flavour Glenfield opened on Station Road last summer, and is thriving despite the challenges of the current economic climate.
“We really appreciate the customers who come out and support us. We’ve got so many people who visit every week and some who’ve never been to any other restaurant in Leicester.
“They are so happy and so confident in us that they never bother to go anywhere else,” revealed Manoj Kumar, managing director of the business.
“That makes us feel like we must be doing something right…”
They certainly are.
Last year Chef’s Flavour won ‘Best Catering’ at the Leicestershire Curry Awards – an honour of which the three restauranteurs are rightfully proud.
“When we won the award, we were so happy because we it was a sign that our hard work was paying off,” said Suresh Gautum, one of the restaurant’s dedicated chefs and cofounders.
“It boosts your hard work and your energy. It’s recognition which we’re really grateful for.”
All three Chef’s Flavour founders hail from India, where they studied a three-year course in Hotel Management.
They all had the same dream; to go into the hospitality industry and to one day open their own restaurant.
“My parents wanted me to be a doctor and I got selected to study medicine. However, my passion was cooking and I was determined to become a chef,” said Suresh Meesha.
“After getting my qualification in Hotel Management (the production side), I began working for Taj Hotels, which is a big group in India. I was a sous chef in the restaurant working with the masterchef, so I was doing very well. However, I got the opportunity to come to the UK and have been here since 2006.
“I worked in London at first, but when I moved to Leicester it felt like being home. I really liked it,” he went on to reveal.
When Manoj first arrived in the UK in 2005, he settled in Glasgow for a year before moving to Leicester and taking up work at a restaurant in the city. He worked there for 16 years.
“It wasn’t easy to come here. We arrived with maybe £200-£300 in our pocket,” he said.
“We all come from very basic families. We didn’t have many resources, but we always had a dream to go abroad and do something.
“We worked hard all through life, night and day, and that’s how we arrived at where we are.”
According to Suresh (Meesha), the three friends all bring something different to the table. They have different skillsets and great chemistry – ingredients which make them such a successful team.
“We are dynamic and we keep on bringing ourselves on the top level,” he said.
“We are very passionate about our food – the garnishes, the taste and how it looks on the plate. This is what makes us stand out as one of the best restaurants in Leicester.”
As for Manoj, he insists that as well as serving great food, together with exceptional service and care for customers is what makes Chef’s Flavour the thriving establishment it is today.
“The experience starts as soon as the customer enters the door. You need to look after them and give them the personal touch,” he explained. “By the time they leave, you need to make sure everyone’s happy.
“In this industry, the best part is meeting people. Some of the customers become so regular that they begin to feel like family. If they don’t come you miss them, and wonder where they’ve been,” he added.
“We’ll call them sometimes to ask if everything’s okay, and in this way, they feel valued. It becomes like a family bond.
“Sometimes we get tired, sometimes it’s very hectic in the restaurant but when we see our customers all that goes away, and we feel energised and happy. It’s what keeps us working hard and striving for success.”