RESTAURATEUR Allam Shah Ullah is a man who knows what he wants – and will go to great lengths to get it.
As a teenager, making his first Indian takeaway delivery, he walked into the Cutlers Arms pub at Gleadless and decided it would make ‘a cracking restaurant’. Fifteen years on, that ambition has finally become a reality with the launch of Cutlers Spice. It’s no mean feat. Allam has spent the intervening time working in his family’s restaurants in Sheffield, Chesterfield and Doncaster but he never forgot his dream.
When the Cutlers came up for auction last year, he and dad Noim narrowly missed out. But when he heard the sale had fallen through, he dropped everything and ran to the agent’s office to secure the deal. They finally took possession of the building in January – and by that time Allam’s plan was already well under way. For the past 18 months he has combined his night-time duties in the restaurant with daytime classes at Sheffield College.
“I was 31 and I’d spent most of my life in Indian restaurants but I wanted to do the job properly. I wanted to stand out from everybody else,” he says. The course deals in traditional cuisine; Indian cooking doesn’t come into it. But he has learned how to bone everything from a quail to a cow, as well as the principles of classical cookery.
He has also undertaken work placements in three other restaurants around the area to broaden his experience: “I’d always worked for my parents before.”
Allam’s input since has had an impact on the Cutlers kitchen, even though he remains a junior member for now: “My ambition is be become head chef but my dad wants me to earn my chef’s jacket.” Until then his parents, Noim and wife Ashfurn Nesa Begum, will continue as head chefs, a tradition they began with the New India Garden at Heeley in 1988.