In this week's Chef Chat we visit with Farah Khalid, owner and chef at Tempe's favorite Indo-Pakistani joint, the Curry Corner.
If you've already discovered this spot, tucked away in a strip mall off Apache Blvd. under a sign that still reads "Urban Eats," then you've probably already met Khalid -- she's almost always in the kitchen or on the floor serving customers.
When you came the US, did you know you wanted to open a restaurant?
I always had a passion for cooking. I loved to try different foods and I used to cater food for my family. Then I got married and my husband was in the Foreign Service and we used to throw big parties - that's the way I became more and more interested. I was in England at that time and I was looking to take some management courses and food courses, and then my brother told me, "Why don't you come to the US and open a restaurant?" and I said, "No. I cant do it." He said, "No, no, no. You know how to...you are so good and we have no Pakistani restaurants in Arizona." And that was like 30 years back. I said, "Ok, fine."
Get the rest of the scoop after the jump.
Through the good times...
So I came over here and I opened my first restaurant -- my brother helped me. I was managing the kitchen department and he was managing the others so that way we got into the business. I opened the Copper Kettle in Mesa and got it going...We opened that one in '97 I think. And then after that we opened the other branch, Copper Kettle Express. My brother again said, "Why don't you open another branch? Come over and let's do this." I said, "Ok, fine" and I came back. That really gave me a very good response. So then in 2004 when my children started going to university, I moved to the US. I took charge of the Copper Kettle Express, you know, completely. From that time I stayed here and I started new menu items, and at that time it was really, really good. We used to be really busy. All the students used to come.
...and the bad.
But then by the time the recession started, the whole plaza started going out. Then I was the only one left...and the landlord filed bankruptcy and he didn't tell me anything. All the sudden they said, "Pack up and go." That to me was a very, very tough period. Emotionally I was very attached to my restaurant, you know, because I worked there like 11 years. When it closed everyone was like, "Oh my god, what happened? Why did you close? Where are you going?" and I didn't know where I was going. Either I'd find a better place, or not. So I was very depressed and that time was very difficult for me. All of the sudden your business gets closed and you don't know what to do.
Check back tomorrow to get the rest of the story.