Michelin-starred TV chef requests Leamington entrepreneur's beer for new London restaurant

A craft beer created by a Leamington entrepreneur has been personally requested by celebrity Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar for his new flagship Mayfair restaurant.

Empress Ale founder Surj Virk (left) with the team at Kanishka in Mayfair
Empress Ale founder Surj Virk (left) with the team at Kanishka in Mayfair

Atul, who stars in shows including My Million Pound Menu and Masterchef Goes Large, has added Empress Ale to the menu at his new restaurant, Kanishka, which focuses on unexplored cuisine from North East India.

It’s the second time Surj Virk, who set up Empress Ale in 2016, has been approached by the celebrity chef to sell his craft-brewed ale at one of his restaurants – the only ale he adds to his menu.

Surj created Empress Ale as a unique, easy-drinking premium craft beer for people to enjoy with or without food.

Originally brewed in small batches within a microbrewery in Leicestershire, Empress gained investment in 2017 from its now chairman, Grenville Turner, the former chief executive of Countrywide Bank and former Zoopla board member.


The business was scaled up as a result, with Empress now working with a number of Michelin-starred chefs and venues which stock the craft beer.

Surj said: “I was ecstatic when I found out – it is a great compliment when someone who is that well-respected within the industry specifically requests to sell our beer. It gives us great confidence in the progress Empress is making as a product and a business.

“I’ve admired Atul as a chef and businessman for a long while and to have a personal request to stock Empress is fantastic! We’re in a very exciting period of growth for the business, with a lot more to come.

“The culture of pairing wines with food is one which is well-established, but there’s a growing movement towards pairing beers with food, especially with such a wide range of styles now available.


“Atul and his team of chefs are telling me the beer works really well with meat and fish and an array of dishes. It pairs well with the food without overpowering it and is very well-balanced.”

Atul said: “I loved the Empress Ale concept and brand from the start and the way the beer works so well with a variety of dishes, but also as an easy drinking beer on its own.

“Our drinks menu is already quite vast and varied with a range of cocktails, wines and extensive whisky and gin lists, and Empress Ale is a much welcomed addition to this wonderful list.”

For more information, visit www.empressale.com