Meet Asma Khan - Chef Founder of Darjeeling Express in London UK

Updated: Feb 1

Indian immigrant female Chef and entrepreneur leading a high impact social movement empowering women in hospitality, training leadership, and inspiring change.

Photo: courtesy Asma Khan

“Food can be the kind of educator that really leads the impact.” - Asma Khan

There is something special about Asma Khan, and it’s not the fact that she was profiled in the Netflix documentary series Chef’s table, nor the fact that she was named number 1 on the list of "100 Coolest People in Food and Drink" in 2019! When talking to Asma, you immediately know she is a Chef with an impact. Caring and driven by a strong vision that keeps her awake at night, Asma aims to empower women by challenging the archaic norms of the hospitality industry.

Born in Calcutta, Asma Khan moved to England with her husband in 1991. After obtaining a PhD in Constitutional Law in London, she chose to embark on a culinary adventure to fight homesickness. She began her food career in 2012 with a supper club at her home. She quickly realized that a business was a powerful vehicle for change, a useful tool to uplift people, and a way to build a legacy for future generations. In 2017, Khan opened Darjeeling Express in London’s Soho, a restaurant that nourishes the body and soul by exclusively employing women immigrants with no professional training. Asma is not politically correct, and she doesn't care. She dusts off kitchens, challenges preconceived notions, shatters conventions, and shakes up an aging white dominated industry. She denounces the industry for its intimidating hierarchy, lack of respect and opportunities, especially for women of color. Asma decided to create opportunities for them. With passion and inspiration, she dreams of a world where change will be carried forward by a future generation of female CEOs, Chefs, and leaders for whom she is building the foundation for change.

Sustainability does not stop there at Asma’s Darjeeling Express, where environmental protection is not left out. Their best practices include: no single-use plastic, minimal food wastage, and finally local and seasonal sourcing, which all form an integral part of her philosophy. A percentage of all proceeds from her restaurant goes to Khan’s Second Daughters, a charitable cause close to her heart.

Welcome Asma to Chefs for Impact!

By Asma Khan as told to Chefs for Impact

What’s your definition of sustainable gastronomy?

“For me, food was always a conversation and a bridge between my culture and my host community. As an immigrant, I wanted to introduce people not just to myself, but also to my food. People who cook my food are not what people think.