Restaurateur looks back at his day with the Queen

Restaurateur looks back at his day with the Queen

Indian restaurateur, Raj Rana, enjoyed a once in a lifetime experience at an unprecedented event at Buckingham Palace earlier this month (6 May). Joining a host of celebrity chefs and prominent hospitality personalities, the Birmingham entrepreneur savoured the occasion as his shook hands with Her Majesty, The Queen.

The reception was held in recognition of the valuable contribution made by leading industry players to the UK’s hospitality world and the industry’s close links with the Royal Household. Aged 31, Raj Rana was invited to the extraordinary canapé party for his part in the success of advancing the country’s £3.2billion Indian restaurant industry.

Guests of all levels within the industry formed part of the 370 chosen invitees as the Queen wanted a diversely talented crowd at the event. The Grand Entrance welcomed Raj Rana alongside celebrities and VIPs Sir Rocco Forte, Gordon Ramsay and founder of Cobra Beers, Karan Bilimoria.

“It didn’t matter who they were, all those who were invited to the prestigious event were thrilled to have been there,” said Raj. Following formal introductions to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Earl of Wessex and the Duke of Kent, guests were free to wander through the six rooms within the state apartment. For two hours, Raj and his peers mingled freely with the Royal party and enjoyed the endless flow of champagne and a selection of 3000 canapés.

“Overwhelming” was how Raj described the evening. “It was a huge honour to have been invited to such an event and a huge complement to Itihaas as a restaurant. The Queen asked what made my restaurant so special. With inspiration derived from colonial India and historical references from the days of the Raj, explaining the theme of the restaurant to Her Majesty felt apt.

“Not only did I get to meet with the Queen and other members of the royal family, I had the privilege of meeting notable chefs and restaurateurs all in the same room. But what amazed me the most was the ease at which the royal party worked the room, exchanging conversations with the less known as well as those who she may have come across previously!”

“My experience of the hospitality industry is a mere three years, having set up Itihaas in 2005, and in that time I have been extremely fortunate to have been recognised in this way.”

The UK hospitality sector employs 1.8million people and the breadth of people invited to Buckingham Palace demonstrated the value and extent it has within the economy.


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