To celebrate the New Year in style, we have chosen to speak to our alumni, Herukh Jethwani, the owner of the award-winning restaurant, Fierce Curry House. Fierce Curry House has recently been awarded the Best Indian Restaurant in Malaysia by Time Out Kuala Lumpur!
The interview with Herukh was carried out during the holiday season and it was punctuated by calls he received from customers, vendors, friends and family members. I have to say, the interview with Herukh is one of the most interesting I’ve done to-date. Herukh has the ability to put life into the stories he tells.
When asked, “What is the first thing that comes to mind as soon you hear of GIS ?” He replied, “GIS is the only school in our family system! We wouldn’t have given any other school a thought!” There were 8 children (including cousins) from his family that passed through the door and graduated from GIS. The 9th is currently studying in Year 11. And that’s not all; Herukh’s mother is also a primary teacher in GIS since the late 90s.
Herukh has had some of the best times of his life in GIS. He fondly recalls how he played the role of famous characters in school plays. They were famous characters no doubt, from Henry the 8th to Danny Zuko from Grease. He was also part of the quartet of the group “Take What?”, a GIS version of the once famous English boy band, “Take That”.
Life was never a bed of roses for Herukh whilst at GIS. In fact, he self-proclaimed to be one of the biggest headaches of his time and it certainly did not help that Mom is a teacher at the same school. He clearly remembers how he got into huge trouble when he burst a stink bomb in Ms. Alice’s (the music teacher) room on one April’s Fools Day. The Primary Principal had to call his mother about the incident, in which Mrs. Jethwani thought was a prank call from Herukh’s uncle pretending to be the Principal, and ended up hanging up the call – a few times! Herukh has had to speak to his mother over the phone to prove it was indeed a call from the Principal’s office before Mrs. Jethwani realized the call was not a prank. That was indeed an apt depiction of April’s Fool gone wrong. If given a choice, I don’t think Herukh would have changed a single thing about it and would do it all over again.
Upon graduating from GIS, Herukh had a clear idea of what he wanted to do. He went on to Taylor’s University to get a Degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management and proceeded to the University de Toulouse in France to study Oenology (a study of wine science). Herukh was inspired and determined since he was a young lad that he will become a restaurateur as he grew up spending time in Bangles, a fine dining North Indian restaurant his father owned for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, the family decided to close Bangles a few years ago and have since converted the restaurant into a casual dining space, now famously known as Fierce Curry House.
Herukh is very passionate about his job. He loves watching people eat and there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing his customers love the food served from the very first bite! Winning the award for Best Indian Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur has been a very humbling experience but there is pressure now to keep it going strong. Despite the stress involved, he is very pleased with his achievement.
His advice to the current students is “Don’t mess up school!”. Herukh described GIS as a safety cocoon because he was so well protected and comfortable in the environment. “I had 56 friends and I saw them daily in GIS. I even looked forward to going to school because of my friends. But when I left, I had like 6! When you leave, you are going to realize that you are very much alone out there. You are going to miss GIS very much. You are also going to realize that your high school teachers are the most proud and sincere about your success in the future as they are the ones who have watched you grown since you were a kid”.
He was very thankful to one of the teachers whom he wished to remain unnamed. The teacher was once furious with him (when he did something wrong) and told him off by saying “You have to change now, or you will amount to a nobody in the future!” Herukh admitted that the statement was a wake-up call for him to put on some serious thinking cap about his future. Today, he is proud to say that he is still in touch with the teacher. In fact, all his teachers are still very much a part of his life even though he graduated 13 years ago. They are very supportive of his work and gave him great advice till today.
For those who are keen on pursuing the service industry, Herukh’s advice is “You better like the industry if you want to be in it because it is a very challenging industry! It requires a lot of “zen” as you are constantly dealing with people. If you really enjoy it, it’ll be really rewarding, especially if you are good at it. But it comes with a lot of hard work!”
For some of us, Herukh may seem to have it all, but life doesn’t stop there for him. He dreams about starting Bangles again and his goal is to build the business solidly so that it expands across the world and achieve an international status. “It doesn’t stop. I am still learning something new every day in this business, but my dad has taught me since young to always have a backup plan because things don’t always go according to plan! At the same time, I am just going to go with the flow and take in whatever surprise that is going to come with it!” In fact, he is bringing Fierce Curry House to a whole new level by opening a bigger and more sophisticated outlet – Fiercer in Publika, Solaris Dutamas. Check out his restaurant on Facebook (@FierceCurryHouse and @FierceR)!
It goes to show that through hard work and dedication, you can be successful in many ways. As long as you have passion and a direction, you can get there! Look at Bill Gates, Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs.
A big thanks to Herukh for taking time out of his busy schedule for the interview. It has been a very fun interview and even greater fun sharing with the alumni community. I am sure the students will be inspired by Herukh and will be reaching for the stars!