As the only British chef to feature on Netflix’s global smash hit Chef’s Table, Asma Khan is a chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author whose face you probably recognise. But if you somehow haven’t heard of Asma, or haven’t been lucky enough to sample the unbelievable dishes that come out the pass at Darjeeling Express, then we should probably give you the heads up that she’s one of the most important people working in the hospitality industry today.
The fact that her restaurant – which is currently serving everything from takeaway portions of biryani to crispy keema toasties – started off as a pop-up in a Soho pub and quickly became one of the most difficult reservations to get in the capital is impressive in and of itself. However, it’s Asma’s philanthropy outside of the kitchen which has made her such a vital and empowering figure. Whether it’s through the all-female staff she employs at her restaurant or her tireless work supporting the Second Daughters Fund charity in India, Asma has always been a vocal supporter of social change. Especially within the restaurant industry. And especially for women.
After studying law, Asma went on to do a PhD in British Constitutional Law at King's College London but it’s at the helm of her restaurant where she’s felt capable of making the most impactful changes to the lives of others. Darjeeling Express might have recently moved to a bigger, glossier location in Covent Garden but it’s the retained the ethos that Asma has become renowned for. We caught up with Asma to find out how she was handling everything in such a “strange” and “unprecedented” time for hospitality.