Ask Tofozzul Miah for the secret of his success in more than 30 years in the restaurant business and he’ll tell you that the answer is simple.
“You have to keep ahead of the game and constantly reinvent yourself – or you won’t maintain your advantage over the competition,” he tells me at his Bayleaf restaurant in the bustling north London suburb Whetstone.
As if to emphasis his point, a few yards away from our table his staff are taking part in a demonstration of some state-of-the-art, computerised kitchen equipment.
“Our approach is simple,” he adds proudly. “We look to combine the freshest natural ingredients with the latest man-made technology, so that we can serve our customers a menu that is both imaginative and of a consistently high standard. This includes using all of the latest equipment at our disposal.”
Hence there are traditional dishes such as Grandma’s Dum-Biriyani (‘just like it’s cooked in rural Indian villages’) to the fusion duck-based dish Battakh, where the subtle combination of ingredients and spices lives up to the label ‘where east meets west.’
Trying to get the full Bayleaf experience, we sampled a blend of chicken, meat, fish and vegetable dishes and found each one a cut above your average Indian restaurant fare.
That went for the mixed starters all the way through to the tasty fish and lamb mains. All were all expertly flavoured, clearly demonstrating the restaurant’s penchant for fresh ingredients and home made spices.
With anything up to 100 covers on a busy night – it’s clear that Bayleaf’s loyal customer base are more than happy to spend in the region of £30-£35 a head for a quality meal in high quality surroundings.
The restaurant’s success is a testament to hard work and overcoming any obstacles that my come your way, says Mr Miah.
“It has to be a passion not just a job,” he adds, “If I’d given up in my early days, when I started a restaurant in south London that was simply in the wrong location, I wouldn’t have had the success I’m experiencing today.”
That success is not just demonstrated by the quality of the food and service on offer at the Bayleaf – but also by Mr Miah’s standing in the restaurant community, where he has held prominent positions in the British Bangladeshi Catering Association.
He is also a founding trustee of the local Bangladeshi Welfare Society of Barnet – while, more recently, taking on the “completely new yet enjoyable experience” of presenting the Channel S live Restaurant Talent Show.
Just shows that constantly striving for improvement – turning over a new leaf whenever you can and keeping up with the latest developments – definitely pays dividends.
Bayleaf Restaurant is at 1282 High Road, Whetstone, London N20 9HH Tel: 020 8446 8671 – www.bayleaf.co.uk