Asma Khan is set to be the first chef from Britain to appear on hit Netflix show Chef’s Table. The 49-year-old owner and chef of London restaurant Darjeeling Express will star in series six.
The theme for the season is ‘the journey home’ and it will see Khan cooking some authentic food from India’s royal kitchens in the north. Because the theme of the season is travelling home, Khan visited her family palace in Uttar Pradesh and viewers will see her cooking up some of her signature dishes.
Khan also cooks the food of Calcutta, the city where she was born and brought up.
Khan’s involvement in the series is a great achievement as only a handful of women have been profiled on Chef’s Table, a show that typically leans towards food cooked with Western techniques.
“Netflix contacted me in April. I wasn’t wearing my glasses when I read the email, and I didn’t really believe it was real, so I didn’t read it properly until two days later,” Khan, who heads a kitchen made up only of women, told inews.
“It was quite scary really, but I saw they had properly researched me, they knew all of my dishes and all about my story, so I realised they were genuine. They [production team] were fantastic – they really wanted to highlight my food and my culture, how I got to where I am. It’s very positive and I’m really proud.”
Khan, who was born into a royal family in India’s Uttar Pradesh, moved to Cambridge with her husband, an academic, in 1991. In her youth, she primarily focused on her law degree and PhD. But Khan always knew cooking was “her calling.”
Khan started with a supper club in 2012 and although she was initially apprehensive people seemed impressed with her cooking. Three years later Khan moved into the Sun & 13 Cantons pub in Soho and her curries became an instant hit.
In 2016, Khan opened Darjeeling Express, a restaurant that paid homage to the food served in India’s royal palaces.
“We are all women in the kitchen, and usually older – middle aged – too”, Khan told inews. “We’re just there having fun. We’re not there to portray a concept, colonial food or anything. It’s just women who want to share their passion and joy.
“It’s still mostly the women I’d cook with at my supper clubs – nannies, nurses and so on. There’s a feeling of being at home in my restaurant. For a lot of us, it’s sort of like our second innings. This is our last chance and we need to have a good game. I think that comes across in Chef’s Table.”