There are few chefs in the UK who have done more for the reputation of Indian fine dining in the UK than Aktar Islam. Priding himself both on celebrating British produce and using ingredients in the most innovative ways possible, Islam's forward-thinking style has won him not just a whole host of awards, but a huge amount of respect from his contemporaries.
Born in Birmingham to two Bangladeshi parents in 1980, Islam was surrounded by Indian cookery from a young age and began learning to cook at the age of just seven, when he would watch and help his mother in the kitchen. Meanwhile his father owned and ran a restaurant in Solihull called The Indian Palace, which is where Islam first experienced working in a professional kitchen aged 13. After leaving school just a year after starting to work in the kitchen, he quickly decided that he wanted to dedicate his life to becoming a top chef.
By the age of 20, Islam was leading the kitchen at his father's restaurant and two years later he opened his first restaurant of his own - Lasan, which eventually grew into a larger Birmingham restaurant group (the Lasan group) co-owned by his business partner Jabbar Khan. After appearing on a number of high-profile tv shows, including The F Word and Great British Menu, Islam started to become more of a household name and in 2017 took the decision to leave the Lasan Group and start afresh.
His Birmingham restaurant Opheem opened in 2018 to much acclaim and was awarded a coveted Michelin star just a year after opening. Following on from the success of Opheem, Islam branched out with his next few openings in terms of cuisine, opening and Italian restaurant called Legna in 2018 (now closed), and Pulperia, an Argentinian-inspired steak restaurant in 2020.
Aktar Islam continues to push the boundaries when it comes to Indian cookery and now other cuisines too, and with more restaurants in the pipeline, he doesn't look like a chef who's going to be stopping any time soon.