Director and executive chef Yogesh Datta of The Painted Heron, talks to Tandoori about his career and
Hiron Miah; serial restaurateur reflects on his 25 years in the industy
Movers and Shakers
Apr 2015 - by
Hiron Miah is a highly experienced restaurateur involved in many Indian and non-Indian restaurants. He talks to Tandoori about his time in the industry.
How long have been in the restaurant industry and what made you want to get into it?
I have been in the restaurant industry for over 25 years. Initially, it was on a part-time basis only. My brother and cousins were also in the industry. Gradually, I started to work full-time.
When you started out, what were the things that you felt were easy to handle and what were the difficult ones?
Due to my young age when I started working, people were very helpful. The staff became like my family. What I found difficult to deal with were the late nights and the long hours at the weekend along with the rowdy and drunk customers. Also, there were so many different curries, I had to recognise them by just looking at them plus I was away from my family whom I missed very much.
Does the restaurant business become easier as you go along or more difficult?
A bit of both really. It gets harder in terms of customer satisfaction because their expectations are much greater nowadays when it comes to wanting quality food, good service, and overall ambiance. In terms of the running of a business for me it has gotten easier. For instance, modern technology enables us to take orders on a handheld machine, which is connected to the kitchen and orders are printed out directly for the chef, Before such innovations, we would be taking orders on a pad and then hand them over to the chef explaining everything. Also, when I first started out, the owner would have to do everything himself, from purchasing the poultry to buying the spices etc. Whereas today there are so many different suppliers we can choose from and have everything delivered to us.
You are currently involved in a host of restaurants including the award-winning Papad and Neem Tree in Hertforshsire along with Muri, Smoky Joe’s and Mung. So what makes a good restaurateur and what makes bad restaurateur?
A good restaurateur is one who is innovative, creative and makes the customer his number one priority. He’s also someone who looks after his staff and has a high level of patience. A bad restaurateur is one who only thinks of the profits, takes advantage of his staff in difficult situations and disrespects them.
What do you like to eat and drink yourself?
I like trying new cuisines. Currently, my favourites are Peruvian, Vietnamese and of course, traditional home cooked food.
What are the aspects that you feel could make the Indian restaurant sector much better than it is and how can one implement them?
There needs to be a greater degree of professionalism and better staff training. We should also offer apprenticeship schemes to youngsters and motivate staff with incentives. Also, more restaurants need to be offering authentic traditional food and introduce more regional dishes.
Who are the people that have inspired you from the restaurant industry?
There have been several, but the key ones are Amin Ali of Red Fort fame, Namita and Camillia Panjabi of Masala World, the late Kal Dhaliwal of Shimla Pinks and the people who created the Jimmy Spices concept.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a restaurateur?
I would say, do your research, be passionate about the industry, have a solid team around you and pay attention to detail. Also, never give up!
How would you like to be remembered?
As a decent human being who helped others and was always there for family, friends and fellow restaurateurs.