Basim Akhund is one of the most good looking and celebrated chefs in Pakistan. Le Cordon Bleu London qualified Akhund has become a force to be reckoned with in the culinary industry. Locally regarded by experts and his fans as Pakistanâ€™s answer to international chef Jamie liver, Akhundâ€™s passion and drive to strive for perfection sets him apart from his competitors. For Akhund cooking is more than a passion and he treats each dish created as a piece of art
From lawyer to celebrity chef, what motivated you to make the career switch?
Our society still believes in a piece of paper, hence, we as adults are tuned to the idea of just acquiring a degree, setting aside our dreams or our real capabilities that could lead to a highly successful and joyful life.
Once upon a time, I too was a traveler in the same boat but success didn’t mean I was content with what I had. What is life if you’re ignoring your real self? Hence, one day I just decided to switch and become a chef. It wasn’t an overnight thing knowing how difficult it could be in our society, I still embarked on this journey knowing and believing that if you follow your inner true capabilities, life will take you places.
You could have easily pursed your passion abroad, what motivated you to join the local food industry instead?
Firstly, my love for my country Pakistan. Words cannot explain what this place means to me. My grandfather and his stories of his Pakistan Air Force days shaped me into the patriotic man I am today. No matter how much you love someone else’s land, in the end, you are known by Pakistan. Ask those who still strive for independence in this globalized world of today.
I truly believe if there is a gap in the market and if you fill it, success follows. Having said that, Pakistan still has a long way to go in terms of the culinary world.
What are some of the challenges you faced when you entered the local food industry?
Our local food industry works very differently. Restaurants and food businesses here operate only to make money. In the food industry, money follows if you don’t cut corners.
I must acknowledge that there is a swift and a positive change that is coming but as I say time shall tell where the pendulum shall swing.
In a span of two years you’ve made a name for yourself in the local food industry, how has the journey been so far?
I have learnt a lot in these last two years but it wasn’t easy. Our food industry needs a lot of shaping and new creative ideas still lack, but as I said times are changing. On the road ahead I see a ray of hope that could lead to a substantial change in how the industry works.
Your cooking show Flame on HaiÂ has become a favourite amongst the community of young aspiring Pakistani chefs, how does it make you feel?
I always wanted to make a difference in our country and I am pretty happy to see that my work has given me a chance to do something and bring something positive on the table. There is still a lot to be done and I am glad that now chefs proudly accept what they are. One should always be proud of their profession.
Do you have any other passion besides cooking?
Passion is a very strong word and if you are devoted solely to one cause, that would be your passion. Hence, cooking is my only passion as I can’t think of anything else. Everything else is secondary.
Tell us about your most treasured recipe?
I cannot name one, whatever I cook comes from within.
Where did you acquire your formal culinary training from?
Le Cordon Bleu London
What projects are you working on at the moment?
It’s a very competitive market, soÂ Iâ€™ll pass on this one. A wise man never shows all his cards. (Smiles enigmatically)
Would you like to send a message to your fans?
Life is not easy, just remember that. If it were easy it wouldn’t be called life but a mere luxury, and luxuries only exist in the movies. Everyone has problems but you must get out there to solve yours yourself.
â€œIn the food industry, money follows if you don’t cut cornersâ€
If you love something go out and get it for yourself, do not wait because trust me we live in a world where many want the same things. If you are the first you shall achieve if you fall back you shall loose.
I always say this, the more you run after money it shall run away from you, the more you run after work you love, and the money shall follow. Just be true to yourself and I swear hard work pays off.
Great things in life come with time and time is of the essence.
Always remember your family and never forget them, because they loved you when you were nothing, and if you are something now it’s your duty to love them back even more.
Lastly, life will hit you hard but you must hit it back harder, that’s when you shall win and we are all Winners!
Photography Ahsan Qureshy