Can Patak's fiery flavour survive in ABF's large cooking pot that is corporate

Published: 08th May 2020
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I have|I've|I've} always been a fan of Patak's, the Lancashire-based Indian sauce-andpickle empire which was obtained last week by Associated British Foods for an undisclosed price believed to be somewhere north of [pounds sterling] . The business that supplies three quarters of Britain's Indian eateries and sells 30 million jars of curry sauce a year has not only supported British eaters to investigate the wider possibilities of subcontinental cuisine, but has set a shining 50-year example of family entrepreneurship. As global stock markets, big-city real estate as well as corporate takeovers continue to sizzle just like a King Prawn Korai on a red-hot skillet, there will undoubtedly be nine-figure bundles aplenty this year, but none will be more deserved than the cheque only amassed from ABF leader George Weston by Kirit Pathak and his wife Meena.I may take danger of overcooking my curry metaphors, but the success of the Pathaks (who lost the 'h' from their brand name to make it simpler to pronounce) is even more commendable for the very fact that this was never a just-add-chicken-and-bungin-the-microwave storyline of company development. Kirit's daddy Laxmishankar Pathak, who arrived with [pounds sterling] 5 and began making sweets and samosas in a cellar in Kentish Town in 1957, was a hard taskmaster with a custom of getting into trouble. He nearly went bankrupt after burning his fingers on a dodgy distribution contract in the late 1960s, and also the firm actually prospered only after he handed over day to day running to Kirit and Meena (who was a food technology grad) in 1976.Pathak senior went to entangle himself in fraud claims against the former Indian prime minister N.V. Narasimha Rao, to whose personal guru Pathak promised to have paid $100,000 to secure a newsprint supply contract which never materialized. Meanwhile.Meanwhile Kirit fought -- and is believed to have settled for [pounds sterling]9 million -- a five-year legal struggle together with his two sisters over their claim to shares in the curry company. Piled alongside glossier concoctions from the likes of Loyd Grossman and Uncle Ben, Patak's sauces speak of authenticity even though they are occasionally distantly related to what's in fact eaten in India -- and even in the event the desire to mix in additional ingredients can occasionally lead to disaster. I attempted to amuse Watcher readers by road-testing a bizarre selection of 'cook-in sauces', among them Patak's Goan Pineapple, which I turned to tasteless mud by the addition of uncalled-for fried onions. 'This one was a lovely shade of yellow in the jar, ' I wrote. 'I was tempted to paint the kitchen with it, and I might as well have done.' Patak's will form a part of a division, and will now become part of the ABF brand portfolio that was vast, from Kingsmill to Twinings, chaired by Kirit, which includes 'panoriental' Blue Dragon products and other 'world food' lines. It will be a pity if this mix of large-corporate fixings makes the type of vapid mess which I found in my own cooking pot; despite the reversal of possession, the Pathak family enterprise should struggle to keep its distinguishing, ardent flavour.

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