Atique Choudhury talks to Tandoori

Posted on Movers and Shakers Mar 2010 - by Tandoori Magazine
Atique Choudhury talks to Tandoori

Proprietor of three restaurants in north London, the Thai YumYum, the Japanese Oishiii and the Mexican Mercado, Atique Choudhury talks to Tandoori.

What made you become a restaurateur?

It was my childhood interest in food and the time I spent in my grandmother’s village in Bangladesh. I used to love the delicious smells that would emanate at breakfast, the pounding of spices, the home-made yoghurt and the fresh fish we would get from the nearby river. The flavours and textures were very appealing and I got a very refined palate at a young age.

Your restaurants all offer different types of cuisines. Does it ever become a headache?

If you have a fantastic operational team which is enthusiastic and driven, then everything becomes like a well-oiled machine. It only becomes a headache if you don’t have an appetite for it or are having a bad day which happens in business. It’s best then to pull back and re-energise yourself.

Your wife works with you at YumYum. Do you talk about work at home too?

I make it a discipline not to take my work at home, but it can be difficult because you are so determined and single-minded about getting everything right.

What do you like to eat yourself?

I’m very much a seasonal person so it all depends on the time of the day and what the weather is like. Today it’s been cold, so for lunch I had a lovely soup with salmon, shredded ginger, spring onion and soy sauce with some white pepper. On the whole, I have no boundaries about the kinds of food I like.

Who would be your perfect dinner party guest and why?

It would be Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal football team manager. I’m an avid Arsenal supporter and want to sit him down, serve him a superb meal and ask him which player he would buy to help us win the Premier League.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My day starts at around 8.30am. I watch the TV news, make some calls, have breakfast and then take a shower. After that I’ll visit one of my restaurants which is usually YumYum’s and meet up with my operations people and catch up with them. Usually, I make notes the day before so I know exactly what needs to get done the next day. I’ll then check the bookings, catch up with the chefs and the front of house team. If there are any issues that need to be resolved then I’ll tackle them early on in the day rather than dealing with them during service team. I’m always onsite in one of my restaurants and it isn’t unusual for me to spend up to 18 hours at work. The one time I do make a point of spending time away is when my son is around at weekends.

What advice would you give to a budding restaurateur?

Be self-motivated, have plenty of communication skills and broaden your knowledge by taking business courses. You’ll also need to know everything from cleaning the toilets to cooking and knowing how to run the front of house, and everything in between.

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who made Thai food accessible to the public.

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