Northern Asian Powerlist 2020 winners – Mohammed Ishaq

Mohammed Ishaq, managing director of Punjab Kitchen, won the Food and Drink category of the inaugural Northern Asian Powerlist 2020.

The full list of winners, along with all those shortlisted, was announced on Friday 2 October.

Outlining why they had chosen Ishaq, the judges’ report said: “Mohammed is the strongest contender for the Northern Asian Powerlist Food and Drink category.

“As Durham and Sunderland Business Executive of the Year, Mohammed was also awarded an MBE for his services to innovation and the economy.

“Seeing the business grow from only 10 staff to now serving over 120,000 patients a week and employing over 100 people is inspiring.

“They are now the largest supplier of special diet meals to the public sector, which is an incredible feat.

“Having started back in 1996, when Mohammed used to make meals for ethnic patients in hospital, to now making food for people with dysphagia and dietary needs, its awe-inspiring how many people’s lives The Punjab Kitchen will have improved.”

Ishaq responded: “I am truly delighted to have been nominated for this award and have had many proud moments across my career.

“One of the proudest moments in business was receiving an MBE in the Queen’s Honours List for services to innovation and the economy in Tyne and Wear.

“I dedicated it to my mother, as I have never forgotten that it was her recipes which made all this possible, and to my wife, without whose support and partnership I would not have been able to dedicate the time I have to our business.

“I’m also very proud to have blazed a trail in hospital catering and to have contributed to improving the lives and
wellbeing of patients, as well as contributing to ground-breaking concepts within the catering sector.

“It’s a little clichéd, but I have always lived by the motto, ‘The impossible we can do at once, miracles will take a little longer.’

“That’s how we have run the business. We pride ourselves on the ability to turn an idea into reality in a matter of weeks rather than the months or years compared to larger more corporate businesses.

“I’m an old-school businessman who secures new business first and beds it in before moving on to the next stage of expansion.

“I have learned much in my tenure. I continue to learn new and more dynamic ways of operating, and will continue to do so for years to come.”


Shortlisted for the Food and Drink category were:

North East – Jaf Ali Dabbawal, director, Dabbawal; Nagma Ebanks-Beni, commercial director, Prima Cheese.

North West – Bilal Hassan Ghafoor, managing director, Manchester Super Stores; Nisha Katona MBE, founder of Mowgli Street Food; Raj Somaiya, chief executive, Payal.

Yorkshire & the Humber – Asghar Ali, chief executive and Shakoor Ahmed, managing director, MyLahore; Bobby Patel, owner, Prashad; Mohammed Aslam MBE, managing director, Aagrah; Younis Chaudhry, owner, Regal Food Products.