By Fakhruddin T Suterwalla
I FIRST met Lakhubhai Pathak, Kirit’s father, in the late 1960s, in Drummond Street, central London, where he had a small shop called Pathak Spices.
My brothers and I had an Indian grocery business, and we use to supply spices and papads to him. I recall he specialised in homemade pickles, chutneys, fresh samosas and bhajias.
We got know each other well and he told me he was waiting for his son Kirit to join him after he finished his studies, as the shop was doing well and they needed to expand.
Kirit and his wife Meena quickly grew the business and started making a range of pickles and chutneys in the UK.
When we opened our TRS Cash and Carry in Southall, Kirit came to see us and wanted us to stock his products. They sold well and soon we were getting enquiries from customers in the US to whom we were selling a lot of our products.
When the European Union was formed, we sold Patak’s products to countries there.
In 2007, Kirit and Meena, who was instrumental in the business and played a valuable part in the development and recipes of their products, decided to sell their company to Westmill Foods, part of the ABF Food Conglomerate.
Kirit believed he could specialise in sourcing and developing the best quality products, ensure they conformed to the strict hygiene and microbiological standards required by the EU and leave the marketing and distribution to someone else.
The was a wise decision as he went on to develop innovative curry sauces, pastes and ready-cooking sauces, which are now not only used by thousands of Indian restaurants in the UK and Europe, but also by consumers in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, and even India.
The Patak’s brand is known for its quality and consistency and has taught consumers how to make a good curry.
The tragic death of Kirit in Dubai after a car accident is a great loss to the Asian community. He will be sorely missed. My deepest condolences to Meena and the family for their loss. May his soul rest in everlasting peace.