Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

From Finance To Cooking For Bill Gates and Warren Buffett

Saima Khan

The Hampstead Kitchen

Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

From Finance To Cooking For Bill Gates and Warren Buffett

Saima Khan


The Hampstead Kitchen

Watch this episode on SpotifyWatch onListen on YouTube
Saima Khan The Hampstead Kitchen
Full transcript here

About Saima Khan

The BAE HQ welcomes Saima Khan, the Founder and Executive Chef of The Hampstead Kitchen who offer curated dining experiences.

Saima was expected to marry young and never really get a job.

She forged her own path instead and built a high flying career in finance which took her across the world to Berkshire Hathaway.

A chance encounter with Warren Buffett at an airport led to her cooking for him and his wife.

Everything escalated massively from there including cooking the Obamas, Clintons an Royal Coronation!

The Hampstead Kitchen


Show Notes

Headline partner message

From the first time founders to the funds that back them, innovation needs different. HSBC Innovation Banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses, creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Discover more at https://www.hsbcinnovationbanking.com/

Full video of episode

Watch this episode on SpotifyWatch onListen on YouTube

Saima Khan Full Transcript

Saima Khan: [00:00:00] I opened my apartment door. There was Bill and Melinda Gates, and I was like, what is going on? That's cause I'm used to cooking for so many people. And then you've got the Clintons, the bombers. And I was like, holy moly, what? You know, what is going on? I wasn't planning to leave banking. It was just a sidebar conversation and I thought what would really happen if I did that?

Saima Khan: And I was given a year sabbatical by Berkshire Hathaway. I was working for Warren Buffet. I put my house on Air BNB. I shared my house with strangers, so I wouldn't dig into my capital. My mortgage depended on my business being successful.

Saima Khan: 

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to The BAE HQ where we inspire connecting guide, the next generation appreciations smash that subscribe button if you watch on YouTube and gives a five star review. If you're listening on Apple or Spotify. Today we have with us Saima Khan, who's the Founder and Executive chef of the Hampton Kitchen created dining experiences.

Amardeep Parmar: How are you doing today?

Saima Khan: Doing good. How are you?

Amardeep Parmar: Good, thank you. I caught that right the second time around. [00:01:00] There's no point pretending otherwise. 

Saima Khan:No, it's okay. It it is cool. 

Amardeep Parmar: When you were growing up, yes. Did you think one day you'd be doing what you are today and where you are?

Saima Khan: Absolutely not. I probably thought I was gonna have like three or four children and that was it.

Saima Khan: I mean, I'm a daughter of immigrant parents who came here in the seventies. Education was key and then getting your kids married off. But yeah, if I look at my life, I don't think I could have predicted, but I, I don't have any regrets. I think this is the path I was meant to be on. 

Amardeep Parmar: When you were growing up, what  did you want to be?

Amardeep Parmar: What were you thinking? 

Saima Khan: I actually wanted to be a Dentist. 

Amardeep Parmar: Okay. 

Saima Khan:It was too many days. 

Amardeep Parmar: Did you want to be a dentist or your parents came? 

Saima Khan: No, I wanted to be a dentist, but my mother was very conservative. My father was very liberal, but I was very tall and there was a lot of pressure that, um, it was expected that art education, that marriage was.

Saima Khan: There was a ton of men lined up and I had just pick one and that was a norm. Uh, it wasn't an  arranged marriage as such. I call it introduction, but that was the path, and that was the path that didn't really resonate with me.

Amardeep Parmar: Maybe somebody listening right now is in that path right now. They don't want to be in that path.

Amardeep Parmar: What did [00:02:00] you do? Like how did you change your direction? 

Saima Khan: Well, I  always, uh, I remember, uh, somebody asked me this the other day. I remember dropping someone by being in the back of the car and I would go on the Hammersmith flyover and saw this building called Wang Computers. And I always had this fascination one day when I work in a building like that and have my own office.

Saima Khan: And in fact when I was, uh, doing my A Levels, I even applied to them and they offered me like an internship. But I knew from a very early age that I wanted to work. I never really subscribed to that kind of, I wanna get married. And I was the eldest cousin, so there's a lot of pressure that I was the first.

Saima Khan: So I got my brother married off to a friend of mine and then Right, got my parents off. I think parents just didn't have the enough examples. I hadn't seen many examples, but I grew up in quite a soufy kind of background, mother's a conservative, father's a bit more, um, liberal. So I think I was an amalgamation of both.

Saima Khan: And so there is a thing of inner calling and it's when [00:03:00] you start switching off culture society that the answers come to you. And I knew I was destined for something better. And yes, we hear loads of podcasts when people talk about that, but it is about quieting the noise around you when you do hear your calling or you wanna

Saima Khan: call it, um, the Universe. There are people who are atheists who don't follow religion, but there is a path that just, just feels right. When I went into banking of all sorts, that's when banking was very sexy in those days where you had the big bonuses and banks were quite not right like they are now. But it was a very lucrative business to go into and the more you studied, the more higher up you went and the less desirable you were.

Saima Khan: The sort of marriage front and, um, Yeah, you, you know, you grow up with all these uh, what's expected of you and there's seems to be one path for men and women equally. There's a lot of pressure, but yeah, somehow we put one step in front of the other and I think I just got to a path where I was living, you know, in different cities around the world doing [00:04:00] very, very well running global projects.

Saima Khan: So yeah, life was quite rock and roll. It was earning very well. Um, I had my feet on the ground ‘cause I'd had a very good upbringing. So, combination of experiences and upbringing. Um, you know, now that I'm in my early fifties, which sounds really old, I think I look back and I think these are two things that I'm very, very fortunate that I had and are the reasons where why I am where I am right now.

Amardeep Parmar: What attracted you banking? In the first place. Like why bank? You said you wanted to do dentistry as a kid. Why? 

Saima Khan: Too many years of studying? So that was gonna be ruled out because obviously you get married, um, in your early twenties and then that's, that's, that's a joke right now ‘cause I didn't get married.

Saima Khan: But I think everybody's got natural skillset. I love projects. I love issues. Uh, providing solutions. And so I've got reputation of providing, you know, delivering programs or work around the world and when I wasn’t banking, uh, on budget, on time. Even recently, I was part consulting at a hedge fund ‘cause I missed the nerdy part.

Saima Khan: So I've got a creative part of my brain. And the nerdy part of my brain. [00:05:00] So I think I just fell into it by mistake and it felt like it was a really nice fit, but it, it never defined me as a person. Like I, now some people just get really hit up that they're lawyers and bankers or traders, but that wasn't my story.

Saima Khan: You know, I massaged off in commodity trading. Which was a very great start in the banking sector. It opened up a very different world, but diversity, meeting different people from different parts of the world. Um, what that adds and just seeing how your personality, then obviously you are growing and maturing, but again, just keeping grounded because obviously in this industry people make a lot of money.

Saima Khan: They lose themselves and so I, thankfully I had really amazing parents who just didn't even know what I did, what bank I worked for, and I liked that because I, and I never got pumped up. Um, whereas if you went, sometimes My ma said my dau, , my daughter's a VP and I'm like, what, what level are you? And I didn't even know. 

Saima Khan: So I kind like that. So if you've grown up in that kind of, you know, household mm-hmm. You tend to keep it really real. [00:06:00] Uh, which I think is really important. 

Amardeep Parmar:’Cause I think, when you're  growing up, you didn't think like you were even gonna work or that was the expectation you weren't gonna gonna work. What was it like being, especially in that there some sort, right?

Amardeep Parmar: There wouldn't be many like South Asian women in this kind of industries. How did you yesterday deal with that at all? Was there any pushback? Did you feel like you had to fight harder? 

Saima Khan: Not really. I mean, people said generally, oh, I've gotta work harder. I can't do this. Like, you don't smoke, you don't drink, so you can't network.

Saima Khan: I never, I never wanna use those experiences to hold back, you know? And this is now, it's easy for women to wear whatever they want. At that time you had to wear skirts and Thomas pink shirts and be really immaculate dressed, and I wanted to fit in that way, but I still knew that. I knew where my boundaries were, and it is difficult growing up as a British Asian.

Saima Khan: Then if you're Muslim as well, but you're British as well, then you're working in a bank which is fairly westernized, then you've gotta try and find that identity that you can't just pick and choose one, that you are an amalgamation of all of those things. What does that look like? But I've always been very proud of certain [00:07:00] aspects of my culture and as 

Saima Khan: Kind of, uh, elevating that. So there are people who didn't have Muslim friends or were aware of Ramadan or either ,uh, not even water. You can't even drink water and like Yep and invite them to my house to break your thigh or break, come for a party and having a party without alcohol. But then you, you bring people into your word and you normalize it.

Saima Khan: And like most of my friends are non Muslim ‘cause it's easy to just be around your community. But it is actually, you pick and choose friends ‘cause they have the common character traits. They, they are my biggest thing is kindness and, uh, respect, honesty, and also philanthropy. All of my friends have a philanthropy thread through them, and even the well-known friends I have who are mentors, which we can talk about later, there is that common thread from a friend who's a hairdresser, uh, one of the top hairdressers in in London, to somebody who is running a billionaire business, you know, business.

Saima Khan: It's just. We are just essentially the same, to be honest regard. We aren't our jobs, it's [00:08:00] just something we do. And this, I think I grew up where people just got really pumped up what car they were driving or where they were living. And I always thought that that's just not really who you are. It's what you were left with after a shipwreck.

Amardeep Parmar: Mm-hmm.

Saima Khan: So after a shipwreck, all you have is yourself. Really? 

Amardeep Parmar: Mm-hmm. 

Saima Khan: So what do you stand up for? What's your legacy? What would you wanna have on your tomb And, and as Muslims, we buy a coffin. Coffin is the white shroud. I bought that when I went for hajj many, many years ago. And you buy it, that's your last outfit.

Saima Khan: So all this, whatever you wanna do yourself with, is irrelevant. And this is not like a textbook answer. I really, truly believe in that, that, um, we wear many personas throughout our years. But ultimately what, what you're left with, what are you building your character for, you know, and having your own business.

Saima Khan: There are people who are relying on you and you need to be aspirational. They need to look up to you, they need to respect you, and you've got responsibility of nurturing people and sending them their way. They're on [00:09:00] their own journey, so, so intrinsically you have to be in check with who you are as a person and not get caught up in the actual and the measurements, the tangible measurements of success, you know?

Saima Khan: Um, and that's really, you have to keep reminding yourself not to get caught up in that. 

Amardeep Parmar: Obviously you were doing so well in your career, right? With in the banking side of things and, 

Saima Khan: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Progressing. But you said that you never really got attached to that actual identity of your life. Did you ever think maybe someday you would become something else? 

Saima Khan: No.

Saima Khan: I, I like, no, I liked it because it's rewarding. You work hard, you know, you get a, a certain salary, it affords you. To go on amazing holidays to have an amazing apartment. So, you know, the correlation of hard work to what you get is really great. So I am not one of those stereotypical people who hated my job.

Saima Khan: My job has, uh, had an impact on how I run my businesses, and I'm still in touch with my, my first Boss. So I'm never gonna demean that or negate that experience. But my thing is, even I didn't even think too much about it. Uh, my [00:10:00] story is even more unique because I wasn't planning to leave banking. It was just a sidebar conversation and I thought, what would really happen if I did that?

Saima Khan: And I was given a year sabbatical at Berkshire Hathaway. I was working for Warren Buffet, and it was a chance meeting in a, in a airport lounge and would have me invite Warren Buffet to my house and then he brings Bill Melinda Gates. Then I end up work doing an event for Bill Melinda Gates, and then my, my life just exploded.

Saima Khan: And then it's just thinking, okay, this is happening to me for me. I have no idea where it's gonna take me, but I feel like this is my path. It has to be, otherwise why would it have happened? And I researched and had a business plan and it just became easier. You know, you recently, uh, had a guest on your podcast and the Nafisa Bakkar who wrote a book called How to Make Money, and she's also become a very good friend of mine.

Saima Khan: And when she was putting the book together, I was like, there's all these business books out there, but no one tells you when it [00:11:00] gets really tough, how to be innovative and how to push through and because so many businesses start up, about 70% of them just go belly down. Belly up, right? And it's because people don't push through that uncomfortable feeling.

Saima Khan: Or many times I want to turn back and go back to banking. It's fair, far easier. But what you learn about yourself, when you go through those challenges and you meet other people who are very honest, I think that working for somebody and then creating a business are two separate skill sets and you learn so much about yourself, and I've enjoyed that journey

Amardeep Parmar:  You just mentioned there, like in passing about Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

Amardeep Parmar: Right? Which is an in passing for most people listening. What was that conversation like? How did that actually happen? Like why would the conversation with Warren Buffet lead to you creating a catering company? 

Saima Khan: So I'm working for his organization at the time, I think it was 2012, and I saw him in a waiting lounge and I thought I could talk to him.

Saima Khan: I thought, no, I can't. I thought, screw it. I'm just gonna go and talk to him. I said, oh, I work for the [00:12:00] organization. He knew exactly who I was and it was just a normal conversation. And then he said, if I'm ever in New York, I'll let you know. And, um, we should, you know, I'd love start talking about food.

Saima Khan: Typically. I said, oh, I, I make a really nice Chicken Biryani, let me know. And that was it. End of a conversation and a couple of months later, his PA gets in touch with me so Warren and his wife would like to come for dinner. And I'm like, what? You know, I was living in a tiny apartment, lower East Side.

Saima Khan: Finished, worked early, went home a couple of days before, they said we have friends, and they, I was already doing some philanthropy work anyway, both in London and in, um, in sort of Middle Eastern countries. And, um, so I've got, we've got some friends who are actually in town. I'd love for you to meet them.

Saima Khan: I'm like, sure. And I opened my apartment door, there was Bill and Melinda Gates, and I was like, what is going on? And I, I couldn't process. And so I'm very good in like conflicts where I can't, okay, this is what's going on right now. 

Amardeep Parmar:Mm-hmm. 

Saima Khan: Let's just park that and deal with it and just allow myself to be [00:13:00] present.

Saima Khan: And then subsequently what happened was we knew the same people. He, he knew the charity that I was is like the, I would say Mother Teresa of Pakistan. So we knew we had that in common. And so he said, we're doing a fundraiser in Palo Alto. Could you possibly do the same dinner for 20 of our friends? Like, sure, no problem.

Saima Khan: We're in a private jet for the first time. Thought it was like, okay, this is amazing. There's so much security here. Did the dinner and like, was quite effortless ‘cause I'm used to cooking for so many people and then you've got the Clintons, the Obamas, and I was like, holy moly, what? You know, what is going on?

Saima Khan: And it's about leaning into it. You know, and at the time Sheryl Sandberg had written this book, I thought, right, this is happening to me for me. So I have no idea. It does not make any sense, but let me just put myself in this situation. And that night over cigars we discussed, you've got a skillset [00:14:00] storytelling.

Saima Khan: And you're personally so not made for banking. So what if we gave you a year sabbatical and you set up this company? I'm like, it's not gonna make any money a food business. I had no idea about that. I researched it and I thought, okay, let me move back to London and set it up here.

Amardeep Parmar: And why was that? Why did you move back to London for that?

Saima Khan: Because, I mean, I'm from London. I was born and brought up in London. And I was in New York. I love New York. New York is really fast paced, but um, I had a quite nice lifestyle. I thought, okay, come back and set up my business here because London has a good hub of diverse global clients and I'm based in Hampstead and Hampstead

Saima Khan: You've got like Jewish, Arab, different types of people, South Africa, and it's just a nice bunch of people. So I set up my company called The Hampstead Kitchen, quite quintessential British. And that was, we registered, um, the company in 2013 and we're gonna be fingers crossed in Charlotte, um, celebrating our 10, our decade in the business in, [00:15:00] uh, in June.

Amardeep Parmar: When that year  sabbatical ended, or like when that one year is up. 

Saima Khan:Yeah. 

Was it already, there's no way you're going back or were there still, did you have that thought in your head? Actually, maybe I do go back. What was that thought process like at that stage?

Saima Khan: For a while, I did it part-time. But then it's just, then you're working seven days a week and then suddenly you thought, what's the worst that's gonna happen?

Saima Khan: Let me take, I can always come back. And then I kept, but the moment you keep looking back in the rear view mirror, you lose sight of where you are going. And a lot of people ever guilty of that. And it is a very uncomfortable feeling, you know, setting up something from you, is it gonna work? But also when you work for a banking role and earning six figures, As you can see right now, the bank can collapse.

Saima Khan: Uh, you could lose your job. So there's no thing as a lifetime guarantee, it's like a false security in your head, to be honest. So when you start looking at that, you think what's the worst? And obviously, What's gonna happen? I'll lose my money, I'll lose my properties or whatever it is, but I can still go home and go live with mom and dad.

Saima Khan: [00:16:00] So you know, touch what I'm not gonna, so I think it's about throwing yourself out that plane, but knowing you've got a parachute behind you and you've gotta really feel confident the moment you let doubt see in. That's when you can't, you're just stumbling to take the steps. So you've gotta be just bold.

Saima Khan: And that's what I did. I thought, right, that rear view mirror doesn't exist. I'm never going back into banking. That's it. I tried and then my boss sent me a reference and said, don't even think about it, kid. So when I knew that, that that door, that door has to be shut fully for you to really excel forward.

Saima Khan: I think people stay in that limbo. You know, you're not going backwards. You're not going forwards. And that's why then businesses don't tend to, and I know that's quite a black and white view, but I have seen a lot of people hesitate and then they're not making leaps. And I, I always say that your eyes and the right front of your head, so you look forward, you look back to see how far you've come.

Saima Khan: And again, they sound very cliche when I'm saying this, but I truly, truly sort of believe in that and that's why then I think [00:17:00] I sustained myself in the business. You know, we did very well in, in, in just a couple years. There was an appetite for it in a very saturated market. So that was really interesting.

Amardeep Parmar: I think big reason why a lot of people don't drive for rights cuz they're worried about not being good at something. Because you know, in your career you were amazing at your job, right? What skills do you think you had to adapt the most from the banking career? Excel in what you're doing now with your business?

Amardeep Parmar: What skills did you have to do changed? Obviously, a lot of the skills that transferred over there have been some things which you had to learn and you had to be a beginner again. 

Saima Khan: True. But then I think that I like learn, uh, learning new things. Uh, I'm, I'm kind of like thinking what my next chapter's gonna be, but I think getting stuck in one, just being one dimension is pretty boring in life.

Saima Khan: And I, again, there was no guarantee that was gonna be successful. In banking, either. I saw many people come and go and even with businesses, but I do know that if you bring ego into it, then you, there are more potential to fail when you attach your own, uh, [00:18:00] identity to a job or a business. And you look, even look on my Instagram, you know, very rarely do I put a picture of myself on there, um, because the business isn't really me.

Saima Khan: People say, yes, it is you. That's one aspect, especially the VIP stuff that I do. There are many people who work in our organization and to be honest, I would say weak because one person can't make a business of su, success. Uh, for sure. So for me, I think you have a certain personality, like I had a certain personality that was performing when I was at three years old, four years old.

Saima Khan: I can, I have the ability to take the stressful situation out of a situation and deal it with that. And then deal with the rubbish that, uh, follows. So that translate well, well into global projects. That translates well into events because there's a start, a middle and an end time. So it's like running a. An amazing project every single day, and then every day at the end of the day, [00:19:00] yay, I delivered that.

Saima Khan: Right? So it suits well to my mindset. So I think you have to be very clear the type of person you are, what job you've been doing, and that there's, there's a commonality. I don't think anybody does anything that divorce from one another. There is a common link and understanding what that is. Just before the pandemic, I decided, oh, I wanna go.

Saima Khan: I was covering for a friend in hedge funds, but I enjoyed it because suddenly when you are in the food business, you're wearing converse and jeans, and then that corporate styling kind of goes, and I was kind of missing that. And you get so eng uh, engrossed in your business that you lose yourself. So I wanted to find that.

Saima Khan: And balance is really, really important. So I went back, started doing running a, um, a global risk regulation project. Really loved it, but then again, started stretching myself too thinly, got really sick and da da da. Like, what am I doing here? You know, I'm trying to do two things, but what do I really enjoy the most?

Saima Khan: And it is running my business. Yes, you can get sleepless [00:20:00] nights as well, but I'm also, I look around and so many people who've been running business for 30, 40 years, their business have gone closed down. And I look around, I thought, right, I've been a bit more quieter on Instagram because I just wanna be a bit more humble, a bit more mindful that people's business haven't done well, some didn't innovate, some pure bad luck.

Saima Khan: Or didn't get ahead of the times or didn't, you know, the tech isn't there. So yeah, I think you've gotta keep a few on the ground ‘cause anything, anytime anything can happen, uh, all at once. And um, yeah, so navigating that has been quite interesting. Nobody's got their life planned out. You can put a six month plan and a one year plan and something can happen that changes that either gets better or worse, but you are still on that sort of path to make it happen.

Amardeep Parmar:So you mentioned there  about it's a week, right? Because you're not just, it's not just you running a company by yourself and you've hired a lot of people. You've got a huge team. Now. Can you talk about that side of things, like how is it to hire those kind of people when it's one thing when you're, you're a manager in a company, but when it's for your own baby and your own project [00:21:00] that you care so much about?

Amardeep Parmar: How is it hiring those people and finding the right people too? 

Saima Khan: Well, the people that work for me, there's two types. They're front of house that have to be immaculate, who've worked for, you know, Coutts & Co. and who've worked in the palaces, so they know how to serve and how to talk to guests. And there's also people behind the scenes.

Saima Khan: You know, there's a lot of ex- refugee people who work for me. There's lots of people. There's a, there's a gentleman who works for me who's, you know, lost a wife and two kids from Granville. I meet these people by chance, Phil. Philanthropy, we make pretty much, I would say 40 to 30% of my profits goes into, uh, quite a lot of organizations both in the, in London and abroad.

Saima Khan: And we recently raised, uh, a million pounds for Turkey and Syria just for my clientele. So yes, I could for very well-to-do clientele. But because of them, I get to do a lot of philanthropy work, but I meet my people, not through an agency, but just by [00:22:00] heart. I've met people on the street, I've met people at a, um, fundraiser or in a homeless shelter of somebody who's trying to get off the streets.

Saima Khan: Um, you know, who's a. There's a big, uh, Asian community in prisons and they, when they come out, they really get a chance, a second chance. So hide one or two of those kind of, uh, people from those backgrounds. And it's lovely to see them then grow and create their own little mini catering businesses. But yeah, it's through chance and it's just meant to be, our paths meet and then they're a bit more invested.

Saima Khan: They treat my business as their business, so the model is really good. So it's a bit more with heart rather than just. Hiring from an agency, it's someone who's not gonna understand how the business works and how, how to create an experience, um, a tactile experience. You know, food is food. I can say, oh, you know, it's made with love.

Saima Khan: But it is about making the whole event something a bit more different with storytelling. Having the right people to serve food, um, engage, um, [00:23:00] that makes that experience a bit more, more memorable. And yeah, that's what we're about. So hiring from our kitchen porter to the person who dries from, you know, is taking our dishes each, each point, it has to represent Hampstead Kitchen, which is that.

Saima Khan: We know how look after anybody who's from, you know, they could be a Lord or lady or a little bitty that lives down the road who's just celebrating her birthday and is only gonna use a private chef or catering company once in her life. So we don't kind of differentiate between that, which is everybody has the same sort of experience.

Amardeep Parmar: What's exciting for you right now? What are you looking forward to in the future and Hampstead Kitchen?

Saima Khan: I think post pandemic, we've become a bit more niche. We've got away from doing, we don't, we're not doing a mass or high volume and we are really making sure that we go for clients who give us all of their events, both person and professional to do.

Saima Khan: We're tend to do lots of events outside [00:24:00] of London, so we have a lot of clients in the Hamptons, New York. So we need to create a way where we can not expand but create like a mini version, um, but still not lose the essence of what Hampstead Kitchen is about. So I actually wanna get more involved. I'm gonna create a studio and I think, uh, 10 years in the business is enough time ‘cause I'm a, I'm a Warren Buffet baby, where we hustle.

Saima Khan: We do not spend money on anything. Only when we need to. So we don't. So now I think it's time to have a studio space. I now want to create evenings where we get people from the Instagram social media community who are not gonna hire us to do an event, um, but get an opportunity, meet us and. We can do a bit more sort of fundraising, uh, with the public, but also styling and branding, um, food brands.

Saima Khan: I've been asked to do that quite a lot, so having my own space will allow me to do that. Um, so that's next for us. [00:25:00] This summer is all about events. And then, yeah, probably early autumn. We all have our own sort of studio space and maybe we can invite you to come in and, you know, to have us.

Amardeep Parmar: There's food on  there.

Saima Khan: No, for sure. So I think London has, uh, doesn't have that many venues where you can easily meet up. So I think I wanna create a space where we can get sort of like-minded people over food, like breaking bread, not quite a supper club, but something a bit more elevated to have a bit more interesting discussions I think around food and culture and philanthropy.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, that sounds amazing. We've we're over time, so I'm gonna go to quick fire questions. 

Saima Khan:Okay.

Amardeep Parmar:  So first one is, 

Saima Khan:mm-hmm. 

Amardeep Parmar:Who are the three British Asians that you'd love to shout out, that you think people listening right now should be paying attention to?

Saima Khan: I would say a guy called Omar, um, Suleiman. He is the guy behind Open Iftar

Saima Khan: I now know that he's got a couple of big wigs on the board, but such a beautiful concept. I mean, now it's just got elevated and become this huge [00:26:00] beast that're ho, a hosting of thousand  Chelsea football  and vna, but London's quite a lonely city, and he created an space for people. You could be homeless, you could be a judge to sit down and open a file. Nafisa Bakkar

Saima Khan: Obviously, she's the one, she recommended me, but I find her incredibly inspiring because she's British, she's Asian, and she's created this amazing platform. This book that she really, it was such a huge honor to be a part of it, about how to make money ‘cause she's got access to people not only in our community but outside of the community.

Saima Khan: And I think there, there's not many people who are able to be in both camps. And the third one, There's a reason it's an Instagram friend. We haven't really met Asad Hamir, but you know, you interviewed him. These are three people that I like following. Um, I like their voice, but they are lots of unsung heroes.

Saima Khan: They may not be on social media, but they do a lot. There's a guy that, um, is behind Sufra, which is a food [00:27:00] bank, the original guy. It was a very small concept. It's now become big and um, there's now people who are doing the project manager of it, but they are people who are really impressive and created a really nice blueprint.

Saima Khan: So it might not be very shiny, but there are some really amazing people in the community, um, who've done some wonderful things. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. So I've obviously met two of those people. Yeah. Open if I haven't been obviously, but I know about it and it's like I always hear such great things about it as well. 

Saima Khan:Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: So next question is, If people listening right now maybe could reach out to you for helper guidance? 

Saima Khan: Sure. 

Amardeep Parmar:What could they reach out to you about? 

Saima Khan: Anything? I mean, I get dms all the time. I mean, I've got a separate workshop that I do one-to-one, so someone's got an idea. And it could be a housewife, could be somebody who's changing career.

Saima Khan: And it's a very, it's very hard to answer the question. I like to know a bit more information so it's a bit more targeted. So I do a one day workshop, starts at 10 o'clock in the morning you get, and I'll make some of the ham kitchen food. And then we sit down and really business planning, everybody's got great ideas, but you know, [00:28:00] understanding the audience.

Saima Khan: So really getting people to think about has this idea got legs and what's the next step? Do you have capital? Um, where do you see your services a product. So I think spending four or five hours to give people initial tools because I want people to succeed. You wanna pay it forward. I was very fortunate.

Saima Khan: I had their mentors, bill Gates and Warren Buffett. I mean, it doesn't get any better, but I liked how they put me in charge, but they ask really targeted questions. What. What can you sacrifice or what can you change about your existing lifestyle? I put my house on Airbnb. I shared my house with strangers so I wouldn't dig into my capital.

Saima Khan: My business was very important. It wasn't like a side project. My mortgage depended on my business of being successful. So there's gotta be this kind of something that fuels you. A lot of people, it's just think, oh, I'd like to have this so. I knock that out of the park, that it can't be a vanity project.

Saima Khan: Yeah. You know, how much money do you wanna [00:29:00] make and what's your aim? So I get very passionate about that. So people DM me but not dm me lazily, like, can you tell me how you did it? Like, come with a proper question and put some time aside. Um, ‘cause I can't meet for coffee with everybody. So that sort of service there is sort of, uh, there's a wait list, there's a charge for it.

Saima Khan: But it also attracts people who really wanna know and really wanna help cuz it's really good guidance. Uh, Instagram handle, it's uh, I have an email that's Simon and I have a mobile number so it'll always get me. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then on the other side, is there that you need help with right now? Or the kitchen? 

Saima Khan: What do I need help with?

Saima Khan: More sleep. Not really, I mean. We figure it out. I've had to ask some really interesting questions. We, I have so many people who wanna invest in the business and make it really big, but no, it is about numbers doing, uh, finding more time to have more of a personal life, more of a balance. Cause in the pandemic, we had to really expand our business to keep afloat in which we did.

Saima Khan: Um, but now it's about being, what do we do [00:30:00] really well? Really honing in on our clients and then focusing on that. So rather than doing 10 events, I'd rather do one event, even if it's taking me to Tuscany there. So revenues are really important and you know, last year we had on our most successful years, um, Touchwood.

Saima Khan: So, and what did we do really well there? We, we said no to most things and the things we said yes to. And it's trusting our gut a bit more. Um, ‘cause if you come from a place of fair, then when that goes, uh, wrong, then you have your own yourself to blame. But sometimes taking chances like, you know what, there's something about this person, this deal that feels right.

Saima Khan: And I've never regretted going with a hunch. And I think in business when you've got bills to pay and people to pay And with the cost of living crisis, we've had to, you know, triple, uh, our salaries because without staff you don't have a business. So all of those tough decisions, and they're not easy to make, are, are we gonna lose business?

Saima Khan: So I think it's a continuous process. You have to keep tweaking. I [00:31:00] think business is like, uh, it's a radio frequency. You are always tweaking and sometimes you get a really clear signal and sometimes a little bit weak. But that's where we are. 

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for coming on today. A pleasure. You got any final words to the audience?

Saima Khan: Well thank you for inviting me to this podcast. So I'm really, um, getting to hear some lovely voices by following it. And I, I, I wish you all the best. I think we all have something to learn from. Um, everybody and everybody's story is unique, what somebody else is doing. You can't copy that and create that yourself.

Saima Khan: Think, realize what your DNA is and what you're good at. And that takes courage and that takes strength to do that and be inspired by others, but never try and replicate what somebody else is doing there. It's different set of circumstances, exposure, experience, and I think that would be my biggest, um, advice to people.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It meets a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are [00:32:00] because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes the world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here, To inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asians.

Amardeep Parmar: If you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact. And by doing that it means we can get bigger guests, we can host more events, we can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.

Coming soon...

Other episodes you may enjoy: