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From Shimla to Nottingham: Second Masterchef star joins the Island Quarter

HIRA LAL THAKUR, the renowned chef, and MasterChef: The Professionals contestant has been named head chef of The Island Quarter’s finer dining restaurant, Cleaver and Wake.

A Shimla native, Hira moved to the UK in June 2013, but it was when growing up in the Himalayas that Hira developed a passion for food after being taught how to cook by his mother.

When he arrived in the UK, he enrolled at NCN College where he received the student of the year award and completed his professional chef diploma, equipping him with essential skills, knowledge and qualifications.

Hira has worked at several restaurants across Nottingham, including The Cumin Restaurant, Chino Latino, World Service, Restaurant Six – alongside Tom Seller who has two Michelin stars to his name – and The Old Vol, where Hira achieved his first head chef role. When restrictions allowed, during lockdown, the talented chef then started a fine dining takeaway service and a private dining experience from home.

Launching this autumn, with chef patron Laurence Henry at the helm, Cleaver and Wake will be a finer dining restaurant, showcasing some of the  most prime fish, shellfish, meat, poultry and vegetables to be found in the British Isles. Once open, together with Binks Yard both venues will mark the completion of the first phase of The Island Quarter, which is set to be one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK.

Commenting on his appointment and the upcoming launches, Hira said: “I am delighted to be working alongside chef patron Laurence Henry at the exciting new Cleaver and Wake restaurant – he is a great chef and very passionate about food. In my career, I’ve worked with a number of Michelin chefs and as a result I have learnt many new skills along the way, which I’m looking forward to bringing into this new role. I’m excited to expand my knowledge further through this amazing project and I can’t wait to see what we can build together with the rest of the team.”

Like Laurence Henry in 2018, Hira was chosen from thousands of applicants to take part in MasterChef: The Professionals in 2020, which led him to the role of head chef and kitchen director at The Old Vol. There, he helped to design the new restaurant’s kitchen, a new classic menu with fusion twist, set up food suppliers, and oversaw the kitchen staff, before leaving to join Cleaver and Wake.

Hira added: “I’m passionate about training and helping people develop their skills, and it’s an honour to be a part of such a talented team who produce amazing food. The Island Quarter is set to be the place to be, in Nottingham and beyond. Nothing like this has ever been seen in Nottingham and I can’t wait to see it come alive. I’m also looking forward to cooking for guests from across the world, and hopefully picking up three AA rosettes as well as a Michelin star along the way.”

FB&E project director, John Whitehead said: “We’re over the moon that someone as special as Hira has accepted our offer to join the growing Island Quarter team. His experience and achievements, including his time on Masterchef: The Professionals, along with his passion for the industry, impressed us all and made him an obvious choice for the team.

“Our team is growing fast in the lead up to launch, and we are excited to see what fantastic results we can achieve. This talented group hosts a great deal of ambition, passion for the industry, and care deeply for the success of The Island Quarter.”

To find out more about The Island Quarter and its venues, please visit: