JAMIL Miah is happy. After three and a half years his idea of opening a cookery school has finally reached fruition.
And the 38-year-old owner of award winning Indian restaurant, Denley's Essence of India, has not stopped there. He has also launched a new VIP dining experience.
"I've been thinking about it for a while," said Jamil, who has been the owner of Denley's for 12 years. "But this is about taking it up to the next level.
"For three and a half years I had a sign up saying 'Cookery school coming soon'," he admits, saying it was only because he has been so busy running his successful restaurant that he did not have time to do anything about it.
But just before Christmas he finally got the bit between his teeth and the cookery school became a reality.
"Everyone in our family is in the restaurant trade," his wife, Parveen adds. "Jamil wants to take things to another level, he likes to be different. He's always been like that. He's always got brilliant ideas. We're lucky we have the room here to be able to do this."
Both agreed that the Indian cooking remains a mystery to many people, particularly when trying to master dishes to Indian-restaurant standard.
"I think people are confused about Indian cooking but want to know how to do it," says Jamil. "At our classes people will go away with a basic knowledge of how to cook a good curry as well as learn some tricks of the trade."
Jamil is zealous about cooking but has been out of the kitchen and involved in the management side of the business for a long time. The school is a way for Jamil, who has trained all his chefs from kitchen porters, to get back to his roots and work with food again.
The school will offer beginner, intermediate and advanced day courses, all hosted by Jamil.
"I figured if I could train my staff up to be chefs from kitchen porters I could teach others the basics," he says.
Participants come in around 9.30am and start prep around 10am, after an introduction. And then Jamil will lead a demo of what will be cooked in the afternoon, between 10am and noon, followed by lunch and then the cooking.
"The atmosphere will be relaxing and completely different from the stresses of work," says Parveen. "People have different ways of expressing themselves, cooking is one of them, we want it to be fun. Cooking can be very therapeutic."
The couple also wanted to be able to offer their customers something extra special so they have introduced the VIP dining experience as well.
This has three threads:
You can come with a group and enjoy having your meal cooked in front of you by a private chef
You can opt to come early and cook your meal with friends and family alongside Jamil's chefs
Or business groups can also come and cook their meal as part of a team building dining experience.
"People love having food cooked in front of them and seeing how things are done," says Parveen. "We've really enjoyed this at restaurants we've visited and it's more of a tradition in other countries around the world. And people like to be pampered.
"It means a lot to me to be able to do this," he says. "It gives me great pride that I have a restaurant with a cookery school attached to it. I wanted to bring something new to Exeter. It's about doing something interesting."
For more details go to www.denleysessenceofindia.co.uk