HYDERABAD: “There is no love as sincere as the love for food” -- these words are ingrained in Chef Inam Khan’s philosophy and is the first thing one notices upon entering his restaurant Chef Inam’s Steak House.
Born and brought up in the city, Chef Inam went to the United States to pursue master’s degree in culinary arts. After cooking at several barbeque parties, his food was immensely appreciated, which prompted him to open his own restaurant in Dayton, Ohio. Chef Inam soon made a mark in the US for his steaks, pizzas and healthy food and his restaurant was frequented by Hollywood celebrities, including Noam Chomskey, Naomi Campbell, Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Cindy Crawford, Al Gore, among others. Chef Inam also starred in a few shows on Fox News, an experience he says he thoroughly enjoyed.
With positive reviews flowing in from all quarters, Chef Inam’s network was widening and everything was going well for him, when a personal family matter forced him to return to Hyderabad.
“It was tough for me to come back, a part of me wanted to just stay in the US, but I decided to come back and be with my family. I was in the US for nine straight years without once visiting Hyderabad, so it took a while for me to get adjusted to the weather, people and lifestyle of the people here,” shares Chef Inam.
Even though he had a family-run business to bank upon, it was only a matter of time before Inam was back in the kitchen, when he opened Chef Inam’s Steak House in Masab Tank, Hyderabad in 2010. “I realised that I was not cut out for anything else but cooking and decided to pursue my passion. It was a small joint and it was nothing compared to what I had done in the US, but it made me happy,” he expresses.
The steak house soon became talk of the town, with many celebrities from the Telugu film industry and businessmen turning regular customers, and Inam soon opened a renovated restaurant (with the same name) in Banjara Hills.
In a city that is known for its Biryani, Chef Inam managed to draw in crowds, while serving steaks. “I wanted to introduce something that people are not used to eating in Hyderabad. Things are slowly changing and people are travelling at a very young age. They come back with the taste of International food in their mouth and can appreciate a good steak,” he observes.
Providing an insight into his unique style of cooking, he says, “My goal is to provide a lot of fusion food with spices, herbs and meat which has a lot of nutrition but still tastes good,” explains the 35-year-old.
Chef Inam endorses healthy food and wants to serve food which helps people with body building and staying in good shape. Chef Inam’s Steak House is often frequented by fitness freaks, gym trainers and athletes.
“There is often a misconception that eating meat is unhealthy and fattening. However, the right quality of meat with the right amount of vegetables provides all the nutrients that the body requires.
It has proteins, low carbs and fibre. I noticed the trend of people going to the gym was on the up in Hyderabad and wanted to do something that is my passion but provide healthy food at the same time,” the chef reveals.
Pointing out that health and hygiene are of utmost priority for him, Inam, who has also has a certification in food safety management from Boston, says, “Over the years, I have gathered experience and have realised that there is a proper way of selecting meat and vegetables. By looking at a piece of meat, I can tell if it’s fresh or stale. Also, we cook the meat only after an order is placed and do not store cooked meat,” he expresses, firmly.
With most Hyderabadis preferring to stick to their Biriyani and Kebabs, Chef Inam admits it was a challenge for him to establish his brand of cooking in the city. “It was a gradual process. My food still has the values of an American Barbeque, but I slowly decided to change the taste. I made a conscious attempt to make sure the food is not bland. Many models, actors and athletes often visit this joint but surprisingly, I also see a lot of college students here, so quite clearly it is picking up,” he adds, with a smile.
Chef Inam is soon planning to open another restaurant where he can serve an open-air barbeque.