Nisha Katona is back on our screens tonight, for what promises to be another exciting episode of Great British Menu. Tonight, as the two highest-scoring chefs from Wales present their six-course menus for a second time, Nisha will be judging alongside Tom Kerridge, Ed Gamble, and Steffan Rhodri.
Not only is she a smash hit with TV audiences, the founder of Mowgli street food restaurants already has a formidably successful career under her belt. As well as spearheading her much-loved Indian street food empire, Nisha has also founded the Mowgli Trust charity, worked as a successful food writer and TV presenter, and had a law career spanning two decades, all by the age of 50.
The ambitious Lancashire-born chef actually worked full-time as a child protection barrister for 20 years before she even began her career teaching Indian cuisine. Since dedicating her life to her passion for food, Nisha has penned four cookbooks, made regular TV appearances on basically every mainstream channel and on Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet, and even has a cooking segment on This Morning.
Nisha started Mowgli back in 2014, to feed her “nagging obsession to build an eatery serving the kind of food Indians eat at home and on their streets.” The chef wanted to break away from the “curry stereotype” with the dishes on the Mowgli menu, which, according to the website, “convey the truth that real Indian food is extremely healthy, often vegan and always packed with fresh flavour”.
The first branch to open was Mowgli Liverpool, followed by Manchester just one year later. Since then the company has gone from success to success, and now has more than 10 restaurants across the UK. In 2019 Mowgli was even recognised with an MBE in the 2019 New Year Honours list for services to the Food Industry.
In a 2019 day-in-the-life interview with Big Hospitality, Nisha actually admitted she eats in the restaurant herself twice a day, which equates to eating “the entire menu twice a week”. She said: “I have lunch at midday and then eat again at 3.30-4pm. Watching the reaction of every single person in the restaurants is the reason I exist. You’re only as good as their last mouthful.”
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It figures that such an ambitious woman would have an equally ambitious partner, and you might recognise Nisha’s husband Zoltan Katona, who is one half of the guitar duo The Katona Twins. The couple met during Nisha’s time studying law at Liverpool John Moores University. They have two teenage daughters, Tia and India, and live in the Wirral, near Liverpool.
Zoltan Katona is a Hungarian-born musician, who had been playing music alongside his identical brother Peter since they were 10. After studying music at various prestigious institutions across Europe, and at the Royal Academy of Music in London, the talented pair have become known as “the classical world’s best known guitar duo.”
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