A group of trainee chefs have been given a taste of Asian-style flavours and cooking techniques, thanks to a visit from professional chef duo, Hira Thakur and Paul Thacker, who run a successful Asian, fine-dining pop-up restaurant across Nottingham.
The pair’s love of Asian-inspired dishes brought them together, and was the catalyst for their business venture, Nakama, translated as friend in Japanese, which they launched in March this year. Since then they have been busy hosting a number of successful pop-up events, and this is the second visit to the College’s Adams Restaurant this year.
Hira, who grew up in a small Himalayan village in the far north of India where his family owned orchards, moved to Nottingham just five years ago where he completed the Professional Chefs Diploma at Nottingham College (formerly ncn). He’s worked in some of the city’s most popular restaurants, including Nottingham’s renowned World Service, and says that returning to the College kitchen where he honed his cooking skills, is his way of giving something back.
It was great to return to Nottingham College, and once again, the students impressed us with their enthusiasm and willingness to learn something new. It feels good to give something back, and by providing them with the opportunity to work with us in a professional environment, on a more complicated menu, hopefully we’ve inspired them and introduced them to some new flavours and different styles of cooking.Nakama — Hira Thakur
During the first Adams Restaurant takeover back in April, Hira and Paul worked with aspiring chef Louie Decaux, 19, who recently completed the Level 3 Advanced Professional Cookery qualification at the College. Louie impressed them so much so that he was offered a job at Nakama.
He said: “Since working at Nakama I’ve seen a new and different side of cooking which I’m really enjoying. Studying at College was great preparation for my next step, and if it wasn’t for my course and the industry experience we were given, I may never have met Hira and Paul or have been offered this amazing opportunity to work alongside them within the professional industry.”
Sam Nowicki, 17, said: “As part of our course, we have to create a themed night, which involves creating a menu, picking ingredients, working out costings, promoting the evening and even deciding on decorations, so getting to work on exciting services like this with Nakama is great experience.”
Amy Challoner, 17, is studying the Level 3 Professional Chefs Diploma. She said: “I assisted with dessert and made a fresh raspberry jus. Working on professional events like this is great because we get to make something completely different.”
The menu tested culinary boundaries, with dishes like: swordfish ceviche with compressed melon, shinko pear and yuzu emulsion, minted crusted lamb and miso aubergine, and Indian spiced arancini with curried cauliflower.