“The path for any emigrant is long, and beset with difficulty. Sham Hanifa opened The Cottage restaurant in Jamestown, County Leitrim, having worked his way up though every stage of the catering world, from kitchen porter to chef, starting at the age of 13. His beautiful cooking meant he was into the Bridgestone Guides straightaway – our reviewer described his dish of rump of lamb as the best thing she had eaten anywhere in two years – and then, master of his own premises, with acclaim knocking on his door, down came the rains; The Cottage was flooded; water damage was extensive; repairs have taken many months.
But Sham is back, and The Cottage is open again, and this chef will see his ethic of sheer hard work paying off, of that have no doubt. Learning the hard way has meant that he has learnt well, and his cooking fuses the myriad elements of his family background – Thai; Indian; Pakistani; Malaysian; Chinese – with seamless ease. Mr Hanifa also bakes bread for his local farmer’s market, in addition to a range of sauces. His is a classic emigrant’s tale, the long and winding road, but Sham Hanifa is already there.”