In conversation with Sana Nadeem

Former Barrister, chef and the owner of Tiger Temple.

A female restaurateur who has turned her passion for cooking into a business!

Sana Nadeem is the executive chef as well as the owner of Tiger Temple. She loves cooking, feeding people, traveling, doing yoga and surrounding herself by animals and kind people.

Sana is in the Ancient Marakish Co-ords. Shop from this Collection Now!

1-How did you become a chef

I think I have always been a chef. I was a chubby kid who loved food who used to tail my mother in the kitchen. To me the most intoxicating aroma in the world was onions and garlic frying. As I grew older I watched cooking shows and competitions like master chef and top chef more than anything else on tv.

Sana is in the Crochet Top. Shop from this Collection Now!

As I grew into an adult I started cooking for friends and family.

By the age of 28, I was cooking multiple course gourmet meals with complicated ingredients. But I was already a practicing barrister and an advocate, well into furthering my career. Then something happened that changed my life forever. I had an accident and had a near death experience which almost left me paralyzed. The fight to survive and heal changed my whole world. Every day that I was alive was a God sent miracle. I no longer saw the point in slaving away most of my life running after money and ambition. I no longer wanted to do anything with my life that I didn’t absolutely love. I dropped everything and decided to open a restaurant with one of my oldest friends who is also now my business partner.

I spent a year researching and perfecting food from my favourite cuisine (Thai). And with the help and support of my loved ones opened up a tiny whole in the wall at safa gold mall and from there we took it to where tiger temple is today.

2. Is it particularly hard leading a team of men, being a single woman? How do you do it?

I think that the long hours and constant stress of running a restaurant is really difficult for anyone but specifically as a woman, it was difficult initially to be taken as seriously as a man would instantly be taken. I had to establish my authority based on my capability rather than just throwing orders around because I was the boss. Regrettably I also had to let go of many staff members who refused to accept that I knew more than them. But over time I have managed to surround myself with very open minded, trustworthy and capable staff members who respect me and what I have to teach them. And I in turn have also learnt a lot from them.

Sana is in the Bornu Tunic. Shop from this Collection Now!

3. What advice would you give the women out there who want to start their own food business?

Our society tries to dictate what job a woman can and cannot do. Women generally grow up with a lot of fear, anxiety and self doubt. They push their dreams aside because the world discourages them and makes them believe that they are not capable of doing “complicated” things like running a business.

I would advise them not to be afraid. Develop your capabilities first. You just have to be willing to put in a lot of time, energy and soul. Develop your talent first and then just jump in. the fraternity of restaurants is actually very supportive and helpful.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. You will never know if you don’t try.

It is amazing that even in a patriarchal society where the kitchen is “supposed” to be a woman’s domain, the entire food industry is dominated by men. You will see a few female restaurant owners but will never see female staff or chefs. things are changing in Karachi and to some extent in Lahore but I feel like Islamabad is truly lagging behind. So get up and be the change!

4. What does the future look like for your business?

I am a little bored now with just Thai food since everyone is now offering it in their restaurants. So we have decided to expand our menu to make it more pan Asian. We are bringing in dishes from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and maybe a few favorites from china. Inshallah next month we will be closing for a complete re-haul of the decor as well as the menu. Am super duper excited about it.

Can you relate to Sana’s journey to TIGER Temple. Let us know in comments!

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