To inspire our young readers, the britishasianews.com initiates a unique column 'Story that Matters', which will include a brief interview with successful migrant entrepreneurs in the UK. Whether the achievement small or big it does not matter, but the journey towards success is what really matters for today's youth.
If you come across any such achievers in UK please notify us with the contact details, we will be happy to talk to them for a feature on this column.
British Asia News Network - London
London, Sep 22: About 37 years ago, a young man from Udupi in the southern Indian state of Karnataka arrived in London. Out of sheer accident, he accepted a job as a cook offered to him, even though he had hardly any knowledge about cooking then. As fate would have it, he developed a love and passion for the job and ultimately became a chef. Today, Eugene Dias, hailing from Shirva, Udupi, is not only a masterchef but a successful restauranteur in London.
He shares his success story with British Asia News, narrating how he introduced the southern Indian delicacy 'Pumpkin Curry' to the British and eventually became a well-known restauranteur in London.
"I came to London in the year 1982 in the month of June. I was first recruited as a continental chef by a wealthy Arab family in Qatar (who brought him to London), even though I hardly knew anything about continental cuisine! I had worked in a restaurant, but never tried my hand at cooking, but I did have some knowledge because I was so devoted to my work at the restaurant. When there was a call for the chef job, my friend in Mumbai asked me to try. To my luck, I was selected as a continental chef! The real reason for my selection by the employer himself was that my English was much better than others who spoke in that interview," Eugene recalls.
Life was tough for Eugene growing up, until fortune favoured him. "Having hailed from an extremely poor family, I did not have any kind of backup because of resources. The turning point of my life was when I was chosen to study in Bengaluru by Holy Cross Brothers' congregation who selected some students from all over India in order to train them for priesthood. I was was selected for their training camp in Salem, Tamil Nadu. As my parents did not have money to send me even by train, the congregation sponsored my ticket too. I think my future opened there, as I got access to free education in Bengaluru's St Joseph's, free food, free accommodation etc. After two years of Science (PUC) study in Bengaluru, my father asked me if I could help run the family as we were in a dire condition. I responded to his call, left studies and traveled to Mumbai in search of a career. I tried working in at least 2-3 restaurants in just a year. I then got a break with 'Imperial Palace', where I had the good fortune to work for two years. It was there that my luck turned and I got the opportunity to travel abroad for job," says Eugene.
Despite starting with very little knowledge of the profession, Eugene became a masterchef soon, thanks to the Qatari family he worked for, first in Qatar and then in London. They realized his struggle, but he was good in English and was able to use it to his advantage to show his loyalty and communicate well with the entire family. He soon mastered the art of cooking continental and other cuisines by referring to books provided by the employer!
"I worked for them for 10 glorious years, during which I gained a lot, thanks to their generosity," says Eugene expressing his gratitude to the family that employed him for a decade.
Exactly after 10 years with the family, another turning point awaiting him, when the UK announced the 'indefinite leave' policy for those wanted to stay in the country.
"I decided to stay in London, and looked for a job in a restaurant. My first break here was a famous but small '22 German street' luxury outlet as a morning breakfast chef in Piccadily, London. I worked there for around two-and-half years, while also working part-time elsewhere. I worked hard, putting in 8 hours in the restaurant, and part-time in other places. By then I had married and had kids. My next aim was to bring my family here.
One day, a guest changed my future further. He invited me to cook for 25 Indian guests. Being an Englishman, he wanted to serve food to Indian guests including the Indian Ambassador to UK. The food I prepared for them changed my life. I was inspired and supported by the guest to open my own small restaurant in London in 1994. Then came the 'Palms of Goa', my own restaurant.
As business started running, a former part-time lady employer advised him, "Look, you are a good chef, good in the kitchen, but I am not sure how good you are in managing the restaurant. So invite a food critic and get a feedback." He took the advice very seriously and invited a food critic from the famous 'Evening Standard' newspaper to the restaurant. She appreciated his food but did not make further comments at the time. But next week, the 'Evening Standard' carried a full-page review under the headline 'Palms of Goa, a new venture in Indian cuisine' with the subheading 'Pumkin Curry, unusual in Indian restaurant in London'. That changed the fortunes of 'Palms of Goa' and Eugene forever. All major newspapers, radio stations and TV channels visited the restaurants, reviewed and interviewed, and all came in as free publicity. His restaurant became the talk of the town, and as business grew, he opened two more restaurants in the next few years.
Now, Eugene lives with his family and has secured British citizenship. He sold two other restaurants as it was difficult for a single person to manage. Meanwhile, he has been running 'Palms of Goa' successfully for the last 25 years!
He felt on top of the world when his family came to London the first time, as it was his dream to bring them here. "That was my happiest moment," he says. At the same time, he regrets that even though he brought at least 18 of his family members and friends here for employment, he could not keep them under one umbrella as they spread out to other parts of UK without maintaining much contact.
Happy family: Helen Dias,wife of Eugene is chef at Palms of Goa. Eldest daughter's Hazel Dias is a solicitor, Son Santose Dias working for MOD and third child is Elisha Dias who is studying.
Eugene's story is an inspiration to all. To become successful in life, you need not be a master of any trade, and even if you don't know something, you can master it if you have commitment, dedication, and passion.
If you come across any such inspirational stories please share with British Asia News : firstname.lastname@example.org
Very very happy to learn the success story of Eugine. Congratulations. I appreciate your hard work. You are an inspiration for many for hard work and commitment. Keep it up and God bless you abundantly.
good work well done i eat at your resturant-great food.
Congratulations Eugene. Trully inspiring story. It's your commitment, dedication & humbleness taken you to what you are today.
Keep it up & let sky is the limit.
Thank you Asha for your lovely comments. Regards to your beautiful kids and Donny.
So proud of you Eugene sir...Palms of Goa is truly amazing.
Eugene and his wife are humble and very inspiring couple. God bless them and may they continue to prosper and inspire people...
Thank you British Asia for this wonderful article....
Truly inspiring, youngsters should make a note of this article. Thank you British Asia for this wonderful story
Very Nice Article about Eugene Dias.
We had the oppurtunity to visit the Restaurant in 2014.
We were treated with Marvelous Lunch.
May the Restaurant Flourish with Almighty's Abundant Showers of Blessings Always.
Well done Eugene. You deserved to be highlighted. You are an inspiration & role model to young
generation which you could achieve by your faith, dedication, honest, passion & hard work.
Proud of you Euegen. Happy that you hail from Udupi. Good going