“You need to have a passion in what you do.”
I grew up in a big family. My dad was a head chef, in Glasgow, but Dad always came home and ate Mum’s food. There was always food on the go; someone cooking, someone’s bringing something, someone’s doing this… We’re brought up in our culture to always cook extra, and you always offer your neighbours first. That’s how we were brought up and it’s part of our religion too.
So when I was off work I’d say to the neighbours ‘oh, I’m cooking today, bring your pots’. And then one day somebody went and dropped money off, through the letterbox. And I thought, oh my god, mum’s going to kill me! Somebody’s given us money! And then I thought, let’s just try it.
We did a curry night, a one-off. And it just went from there. We still have a lot of our old, old customers – and that’s what, a good four years ago? They’re such loyal customers! And it was actually our neighbour across the road who said to me, Saf, you should do the street food at the Lantern Festival.
That was the first time I’ve ever done street food; cooking the food at home, heating it and taking the little pots, serving under a flimsy gazebo. We’ve come such a long way. Now, we cook fresh outside. Only the prep work is done at home. It’s such a big difference from having reheated food to having it freshly done.
Our wedding catering is a big aspect of our business now, and we’ve also launched our Tiffin Lunches. They’re eco friendly because we re-use the steel tiffin boxes and they have biodegradable spoons and serviettes supplied with them. We do a vegan or a meat set menu. It’s exciting, because you open it and you have all these little tins. You don’t need any plates, you just eat from them. They’re great. They’ve gone down really well.
We won an award in 2017 for the Best Street Food Vendor in MK. And we’ve got the Best Curry award 2019. So, we’ve done really well and we’ve worked really hard. And do you know what it was? If it wasn’t for the community and if it wasn’t for the love they had, I don’t think we would have got where we are. I think they’ve been a massive part of Saf’s Kitchen.
Saf’s Kitchen is a Wolverton baby. Because it started on our Jersey Road, with our first ever curry night and it’s slowly just gone from there. And it’s a family business. Our nieces are on board. My sister comes from Glasgow when we’ve got the bigger events; she comes with her kids, and they help out. My husband, Ish, came on board full time with us in June. So we both run the business together.
We’re still in our kitchen – I’m not leaving my kitchen. I don’t want to go, because then it isn’t home, and you’re cooking for the masses, we’ll lose that touch. I don’t want to come to a point where it doesn’t become enjoyable, where it becomes a chore. So when it gets to that point then I will stop.
I think you need to have a passion in what you do, don’t you? People don’t just buy your food, they buy you as a person; that comes with it, your personality comes with it, your passion comes with it. So it all goes together. When it comes to street food, or your home cooking, it’s you as well.
I wouldn’t move out of Wolverton. We’re quite happy in Wolverton. And I love this, I love what I do. I didn’t expect it to be like this. It’s so good.