By David Page MBE
AS SOON as I first met Kirit Pathak in the late 1980s, I knew there was little doubt that he would achieve his ambition of building Patak’s into the leading brand of authentic Indian foods, worldwide.
His determination to grow the fledgling business, which he effectively inherited from his parents, was self evident with his charismatic and unique leadership style.
Kirit and his wife Meena were a formidable team in terms of their complementary skills and abilities. It was both an honour and enjoyable for me to work for and with them during the exciting 1980s and 1990s as authentic Indian food became the dominant ethnic food in the UK and, increasingly, internationally. Patak’s grew from its base within independent Indian stores and restaurants to become the leading brand it is today, yet Kirit was always keen to retain its loyal and traditional Indian consumer base.
For me, it was always a delight to discuss with Indian restaurateurs their continuing use of the long-established pastes which were the base flavour for millions of meals and takeaways. Innovation such as cooking sauces, ready-to-eat poppodums and naan breads have become staple elements of our national diet thanks, in the main, to Kirit’s desire to always lead the growth and development of the cuisine he so loved.
Despite the ever increasing size of the business, Kirit never lost his love of sourcing ingredients from around the world, especially from India, where he would source key spices, fruits and vegetables direct from local markets and growers. Kirit’s knowledge and insight of such ingredients made a vital contribution to the success of the company.
Kirit leaves a legacy of having led, as chair, the leading brand of Indian food which was exactly what he set out to achieve some 50 years ago. It was and always will be a genuine privilege to have been part of that journey for nearly 20 years as managing director.
The memorable brand strap line ‘Pukka people pick a pot of Patak’s’ will be forever in my heart.
David Page was group managing director of Patak’s from 1990-2007.