Bradford born entrepreneur Waleed Qadar, never dreamt that one day he would be successfully running a food empire and be the first choice for hospitality among leading international celebrities.
It all started in 2007 says the self-made businessman, “When I was given the chance to be the hospitality partner for the International Indian Film Awards (IIFA’s), for my brand Desi Shakes.
“The IIFA awards was the biggest thing to happen in Yorkshire with some of India’s biggest stars coming to our region and what a pleasure it was for me and my time, to host the then Big Brother winner and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty’s birthday party.”
Shilpa Shetty, was an average actress in Bollywood, until her appearance in Big Brother. Ironically the Big Brother racism controversy made Shetty an over-night success and her first major public appearance following her new found international stardom, was at the IIFA Awards 2007, where Waleed was given the contract to cater and host the stunning actress’s birthday party.
“I will never forget that night” said Waleed. Whilst it was the most stressful to organise, as Shilpa was the biggest star of the time, both from Bollywood as well as western mainstream industry, it was definitely a delight to prepare food for her birthday. I guess from that day onwards our journey of being hospitality partners for other celebrities just grew”
Word soon got out about the delicious food made by Waleed’s team and not forgetting the hospitality, which then resulted in deals and work with other leading stars.
Another big fan of Waleed’s delicious food is world famous musician and singer, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The singer whilst on tour in the UK, always makes it a point to touch base with Waleed and relishes in the company of the food entrepreneur.
So, what is the secret to Waleed’s success. Why has he suddenly become a magnet for celebrities. Whether it’s the older generation or even the younger generation like Zayn Malik, they simply can’t get enough of Waleed’s hospitality.
“Well, if I told you I would have to kill you” jokes Waleed. “On a serious note, our food is made from the purest and finest ingredients. This combined with our secret family recipes of over a century, the formula is as they say in filmy terms a blockbuster.” He said.
“I had the good fortune of preparing a special picnic for Dharmendra, Sunny and Bobby Deol. They enjoyed a banquet of some of our most amazing curry dishes. Dharmendra said the food was the best he had ever tasted outside of India” Said Waleed.
Waleed entered the food industry with the family business started by his father, called Shimlas. Following the huge success of the Shimlas brand, especially the world-renowned chicken donner, Waleed has now Shimlas Express, which will offer gourmet style street food, based on the founding principles of the original Shimlas.
This growth will be followed by a range of exciting new restaurants due to be opened in 2018, with a special catering arm for celebrity hospitality. As Waleed continues to build his empire, our interview ends with perhaps the most important words in hospitality….do visit again!