It all began, Sat Bains says, with passion. But not for food—it was women, and a desire to impress them, that drove the Bains into a culinary career. But his love and mastery of food ultimately took over. And it’s that passion, not any paramour, that defines him today.
Born in Derby to Indian parents and moving to Nottingham at 21, Bains crossed paths with several influential British chefs over the course of his career, including Raymond Blanc. But the doors to his career flew open in 1999, when Bains was awarded the Roux scholarship (an illustrious designation for young chefs named after famous Chefs Michel and Albert Roux). The scholarship led to many other opportunities, including working at Le Jardin de Sens in the south of France.
Eschewing London chic, Bains returned to Nottingham to take over as head chef at the Hotel des Clos. And in 2002, he opened Restaurant Sat Bains, winning his first Michelin star a year later, and a second star a few years after that. He took over the restaurant in 2005 and re-opened it as Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms, marking it a “destination restaurant” with an attached boutique hotel. The confidently idiosyncratic operation was a hit, named 2007 “Restaurant of the Year for England” by the AA. Bains became something of a television star, too, winning The Great British Menu with a perfect 10 out of 10 score for his peas, duck egg, and ham dish. While the lure of London two hours south has always remained on the periphery, Bains happily has his hands full in Nottingham, where he has a bounty of wild garlic and nettles, and a rapt culinary audience, mere feet from his restaurant.