After achieving global recognition in music, TV, film and fashion, social media influencer Adeel Chaudhry has become the first Pakistani connoisseur to feature in the internationally-acclaimed Forbes magazine. Putting Pakistani cuisine on the world map, the owner of the Lahore-based restaurants Janoon and Bohat Aala, is now the most-viewed Pakistani food vlogger in 2022 with millions of views.
Proud, he took to his Instagram on Wednesday to share the Forbes recognition. “I’m humbled and can’t be more thankful to Allah and my followers for this achievement and for ending this year being the proudest Pakistani. First Pakistani Food Connoisseur ever to be featured in world’s leading magazine,” he wrote while thanking the magazine for recognising Pakistani cuisine as “one of the best” in the world.
Chaudhry penned that this achievement brought him closer to his goal of putting local food and Pakistani culture on the global map. He wrote, “We may be divided by border but we are united by food.” He then gave a shoutout to all other chefs, content creators, foodies and his followers for the amazing work that they that have been doing. “You all are #BohatAala,” he concluded.
The food connoisseur detailed his upbringing, love for food (particularly fusion) and his journey to opening two eateries. “I love playing with spices and bringing a little enhancement to what’s standard in the preparation of a local dish,” he told Forbes, adding that he often toys about in his pastry lab in the restaurant where he and his chef experiment with giving local desserts an international spin.
However, Chaudhry admitted that it was never easy for him to convince locals to give fusion food a try since their taste buds are so accustomed to what they eat on a regular basis. “Taste is subjective, some may like fusion food and others may not. I feel in Pakistan we’re still a bit cautious when it comes to food innovation. Particularly in the Punjab province, there’s a strong sensitivity when it comes to attempting to alter a recipe,” he stated.
Regardless of the resistance to innovation in food, Chaudhry feels restaurateurs in Pakistan should be more open to what’s happening globally. “We have to be both relatable and stand out,” he said while revealing that his time in Dubai, while he worked in real estate, made him want to start his own restaurant.
“I noticed that the restaurants in Dubai made their dishes visually very tempting. Even if they were serving a simple drink, they’d make an entire experience out of it. For example, a server would dance before putting it on the table. I realized that the entertainment aspect creates value for what the customer is about to consume. Food needs to look delicious for sure, but the theatrics are important and fun too,” he exclaimed.
“Look at Salt Bae. Given the competition, you need to find more innovative ways to sell your food. And I’m trying very hard to develop this in Pakistan. Customers need to connect with what’s on their plate so that they have the desire to eat it.” Concluding, Chaudhry revealed that he has plans to launch Junoon’s second branch in Lahore’s Old City next month.