Imran “Ali” Moohki is the executive chef at Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen, a 100-percent Halal, farm-to-table restaurant serving a mix of Indian, Pakistani and Afghan cuisines in Downtown Fullerton. “When I opened Khan Saab, I wanted to blend cultural authenticity with modern creativity to create food for other Desi guests but also western diners who had never experienced upscale Desi food before.” Learn more about Imran “Ali” Moohki…
Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan
First job: Dishwasher
Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: I love to explore and enjoy the delicious and culturally-rich cuisine in Southern California and beyond. It’s how I am inspired to continue elevating my culinary craft at Khan Saab. I’m also a sports lover, so I spend a lot of my free time on the field.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: My biggest accomplishment to date is the creation of Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen. Khan Saab is my realized dream of elevating Desi cuisine in a way that American diners might have never expected or known possible. Additionally, most recently in 2020, I was recognized by the Michelin Guide for my culinary contribution as consulting chef at Tumbi in Santa Monica, which was a huge and humbling achievement!
The biggest obstacle you overcame: After moving to the states and before I found work as a dishwasher in Los Angeles, I spent several nights sleeping at LAX airport and later in storage spaces while I looked for my first job. Therefore, the biggest challenge I’ve faced was finding and securing employment, which was truly the beginning of my culinary journey in the west.
Someone who inspires you and why: I am incredibly inspired by Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia. He is a pioneer in the arena of Desi cuisine and has opened doors for chefs everywhere to rethink and challenge the traditional Desi dining experience.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: The primary advice I have for people looking to achieve success in the restaurant industry is to work hard, learn from your mentors, develop and continue to feed your passion, train your palate and, most importantly, be prepared to persevere through anything and everything that stands in your way.
Favorite quote: “You can never succeed if you don’t try.”
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I think people would be surprised to find me outside the kitchen and on the field! I am actually a huge sports fanatic! I’m currently in a cricket league, and I play as much as I possibly can find time for when I’m not at the restaurant.
What makes someone fabulous: The characteristics of a fabulous person are being genuine, caring, kind and having deep-rooted integrity.