HomeChef InterviewsMeet The Chef: Abdul Yaseen We pick the brains of Abdul Yaseen, the talented chef behind Darbaar restaurant to learn more about his inspirations, career tips for aspiring chefs and why he can’t resist a slice of watermelon in the summer months. What inspired you to become a chef? My love for thick gravies comes from the home, served to me by my mother (gravies are commonly used in Indian cooking as the sauce base to curries including typical ingredients such as garlic, cumin and turmeric). I found the sputtering of spices more interesting when she cooked, rather than playing outside with my cousins. Tell us more about your culinary background… I remember making an omlette for myself at 7 years old, then moving to school where I cooked for friends. At college I cooked a lot for my housemates, and hosted large feasting parties. Classically trained in The Oberoi group of hotels as a professional chef, I was then invited to London to work as a frontline chef in the opening team to launch Cinnamon Club back in 2001. Over the years I have received many accolades for my work including being awarded as the British Barbeque Champion two years running (2009 and 2011), and received the Best Newcomer Award for Darbaar in 2016 at the British Curry Awards. What has been the proudest moment in your career? Winning the Square Meal Canapé Cup championship for three years in a row. If you weren’t a chef, which career would you like to pursue? Music is in my blood, and as an artist I have a lot of respect for art. I used to do solo performances in college and would undoubtedly be a singer. Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs? It is a rewarding career for those who believe in getting into the grind and learning the art to its fullest. It can be challenging at times, but definitely worth the hard work. Describe your cooking style in three words Cooking for me is a combination of art, science and love. Cooking is a science and an art, and needs a lot of love to bring it all together. What provides you with inspiration for new recipes? I keep myself in the shoes of my guests and always try to think from their perspective. Creativity and innovation is great for a chef but if it doesn’t fit within the expectation of the guest, then it’s a wasted effort. Do you have any role models? My role model is my Aunt Razia whose cooking techniques have inspired my cooking for years. Being simple and still cooking a king’s meal is a fantastic gift she has given me, and are the foundations to my love for food. What food takes you back to childhood? My mother’s potato bhaji, which I crave so often, especially as she lives so far away. What are your favorites summer ingredients? Watermelon, in any form. What’s next on the cards? I am working on refining my dishes, and integrating the concept around smaller sharing dishes, I also want to bring more theatre to the menu. Hungry for more? Find more chef interviews in the latest issue of Good Things magazine.