Parveen Ashraf was born in Bradford . She is the middle child of 7 and was raised by her Pakistani Immigrants parents. She had a wonderful childhood raised on mothers’ authentic dishes. Parveen have been married for 35 years and have 3 adult children, all of whom support her in her business.
She wrote her first book 10 years ago, then she filmed her TV show 4 years ago. Her ITV series 'Parveen's Indian Kitchen' was aired on Sunday mornings in 2019. The show was shown around the world and translated into many languages. Parveen is also a food writer and wrote a local column for 3 years and was often guest blog for a supermarket. She now lives in East London, and travels around Europe teaching Indian cooking and she is just finishing her 2nd book.
1) Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in?
I am lucky that I actually have 3 places I call home. 1. The city in which I was born and raised, Bradford. Many of my family still live there and it is linked to my childhood...I also consider Peterborough to be my home, as I raised my 3 children there. I often still visit my friends who live there...And finally, I also look upon East London as my home as I moved there as a young new bride, and it holds lovely memories for me.
2) What are your proudest achievements?
One of my proudest moments is when I gave my 'Thank You' speech at my book launch. My husband and children were in the audience and it’s the first time he saw me speak publicly. Afterwards, my publisher told me that everyone was watching me, but she was watching him - as he was beaming with pride. So, just knowing that he was proud of me, made me proud of what I had achieved i.e., becoming an author.
3) What inspires you?
That’s easy - my late mother. She inspired me.
4) What has been biggest obstacle in your career?
The biggest obstacle for me was being a female in a male dominated profession. It seems that most professional chefs are men, whereas as we know the best home cooks are women. And in the world of TV chefs - it’s the same.
5) Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
Nigella Lawson was the first TV chef who I admired and wanted to emulate. I also wrote my books in her style, informative and informal. Sometimes certain newspapers would call me the Asian Nigella, and that is a huge compliment.
6) What is the best aspect about your current role?
The best aspect of my current role as a TV chef, author, and Cookery teacher, is that I get to be myself. I celebrate everything that is wonderful about by culture as well as my cuisine…I feel it’s my job to represent South Asian women in a positive light. I also represent women over 50 plus. I want to show the world that we can still be glamorous at our age.
7) And the worst?
The worst thing is trying to believe in who I really am. I sometimes have imposter syndrome, then once I am on stage or doing a demo - I feel fine. The other aspect of my job is that when people see me, they expect to see the person who they see in TV or social media - The most common comment I receive is - aren't you small.
8) What are your long-term goals?
My long-term goals are to write another book, which is my 3rd, hopefully try and film a second series.... Then I want to travel to teach people the wonders of South Asian flavours. Then at some point I am hoping to build a school for Girls in Africa (in some of the poorest areas in Ghana). I know the area as my eldest son Imran works there. I will be building the school in honour of my parents.
9) If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change?
If I was PM, I would change the curriculum to include home economics. I think cooking is a skill and it’s becoming a lost skill. I would like to bring it back.
10) If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why?
I would probably spend time with Elvis Presley because of the energy he executed. Plus, he was one famous individual who was so respectful of his mother. I love his musicality, his handsome face…Also if I got bored, he could sing to me!