JUNOON RESTAURANT has been on our radar for quite a while and we finally got the chance to sit down with the brains behind it. Adeel Chaudhary, a food connoisseur started off his journey as a food blogger and his passion led him to own one of the most sought after restaurants in Lahore when it comes to traditional eating!
We asked Adeel all those questions that we probably had been wondering about for a long time now! Read on to know more about this young restaurateur and his vision !
1. Since we’ve known you from a long time as the face behind The Stylish Gravy, what made you turn to creating your own eatery from food blogging?
I wasn’t properly into blogging since I had been working as a realtor in Dubai , as a passion I used to blog about food and collaborate with restaurants in Dubai to write articles about all the ‘it’ food items and spots in the city. Opening up a restaurant was always the plan but the blog’s popularity and the experience from there was what led me to come up with a larger plan for Pakistan!
2. Was the larger plan Junoon?
Junoon was part of the plan but there’s a major project on the way which I’ll be sharing with the public soon.
3. In very less time, Junoon has made its mark in Lahore. What’s the secret behind it?
Probably all the hard work that my team and I have been putting in. Working with traditional cuisine meant that we had to keep its originality intact. Along with that it had to be something different and had to have a competitive edge. So, we added the fusion bit to our drinks and desserts. Apart from that, promoting these cuisines is not only about the food. It’s about the whole experience, from the moment you enter the restaurant to the time you leave, the impression, ambience has to last!
4. Why the name Junoon?
It symbolizes my passion for food! I had consulted a lot of Urdu language experts and had to come up with something which was catchy and had a nice ring to it. People wanted me to pick something else, since “Junoon – the band” already existed but I went on with it as I thought this was the best choice!
5. What kind of cuisine does Junoon specialize in? Was this a hard pick?
Traditional and Desi because that’s the choice of the masses! One can’t go for burgers and pastas every single day but traditional pakistani food is what binds us all together be it day to day life or special occasions. It was definitely challenging as traditional food is difficult to experiment with as Punjabis don’t like their food to be messed with!
6. What is the idea of perfect hospitality to you, since it’s a major ingredient for running a successful eatery?
Hospitality is a very vital and all inclusive term. Making a restaurant amd making it WORK, are two separate things. For example, making something at home is only limited to the preferences of 5 or 6 people. My restaurant has 500 – 600 customers coming in daily. I try to have that perfect blend which consists of food, ambience, services, how you greet them and I make sure that it fits well with every individual’s preferences.
7. Which restaurants have inspired you internationally or locally?
Gagan in Bangkok, Farzi Cafe in Dubai, Chutney Valley in London. Locally, Kolachi in Karachi all the way. I’d go as far as calling it the benchmark of hospitality.
8. Chefs that inspire you the most?
Since I’m a food connoisseur , food for me is not only about taste and my interest is not limited to the chefs behind it. I’m more into theatrics of the serving of food! It has to look unique and dramatic, hence the fusion drinks here!
9. For our readers’ information, would you label your restaurant as pricey or reasonable?
I couldn’t go to more pricey side since I am targeting the masses. We try to do business with masses where they get a good experience in a moderate price. Personally, I didn’t target the niche market as I believe they aren’t loyal! They are always on the lookout of something new and will eventually forget your product. Masses on the other hand remain loyal to their choices.
10. How would you describe the restaurant’s aesthetic and theme? What was the inspiration behind it?
The idea was east meets west! Which you can see in my drinks and desserts. Similarly the art pieces will translate the same story.
11. If you could add one more thing to this already successful restaurant, what would it be?
Food wise we keep on adding things, Ramadan is a good time to experiment. Ambience wise, I keep on changing for example adding or changing portraits, art work , digital images etc.
12. Does Junoon offer separate places for private parties?
Not really, if one has to host a large dinner, they can book the ground floor or the rooftop.
13. Do you have catering services at Junoon?
Yes we do, for private events only.
14. Where do you see Junoon in the next 5 years?
At different places. Within the country and InshAllah internationally as well!
RAPID FIRE ROUND:
3 most overrated restaurants in Lahore?
I won’t take names but I can tell you overrated cuisines in Lahore. Chinese, Italian Continental, Mexican.
3 most underrated restaurants in Lahore?
Baking Virsa , Amu’s ( Shahnawaz is a great chef who is very innovative), Okra.
3 restaurants which have been able to sustain themselves well so far?
Spice Bazaar, Monal, Kolachi.
3 people whose journey has inspired you a lot?
Imran Khan only!
Before junoon, which three places did you used to go to for hanging out and food?
Bamboo Union, Sumo, Arif Chatkhara.
3 things that you had in mind before opening up Junoon?
Location, ambience, food.
3 things that sets Junoon apart from other restaurants?
Location, ambience and food!
Which three guests at Junoon got you the most excited?
Mom, Dad and Mark Weins the international food and travel vlogger who was visiting Pakistan and wanted to conclude his journey here at Junoon!
3 best compliments that you have heard about Junoon?
I have come across a lot of appreciation, but coming across people who tell me that people suggest Junoon in countries like UK to anyone who is visiting Pakistan..that is definitely something big!
3 edibles that no other restaurant serves but Junoon does?
Molecular gastronomy drinks, Gulab Jamun Cheesecake, Gulab Jamun Carpaccio.
It was a pleasure sitting down with Adeel and we wish him all the best for his upcoming plans! Need us to interview someone? Give suggestions in the comments!