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Community Spotlight – Piers Zangana, Founder of Persian Hospitality Network

Piers Zangana is the founder of the Persian Hospitality Network and PR agency Susa Communications, helping hospitality businesses tell their stories and bringing the Persian hospitality community together.

We spoke to him about why he started his non-profit, the industry support for the Persian community and his proudest career moment so far.


Tell me a bit about yourself…

I was born in Iran and came to the UK when I was very young – soon after the revolution. I lived in London most of my life, was a journalist by trade, and then decided I wanted to go into PR and communications. 

After working for several corporations in-house for years I then decided to take the plunge and do my own thing about seven years ago.

Since then, I have been working with all sorts of businesses, largely in food and hospitality, although not exclusively. My work is reputation management. I help businesses launch, develop, and grow through vehicles such as the press, social media and other marketing and communications.


Why hospitality?

I joke that I followed my stomach into hospitality. I like food, I like the business of food, I like people who work in food. Culturally it’s a big part of my life as well. 

Food is a big part of Persian culture, It holds a very special place in my life. Around the dinner table is where things happen, it’s very much a place of community and discussion.

Is that what led you to set up the Persian Hospitality Network?

The vast proportion of people who came to this country came from Iran came around the same time that we did. So relatively speaking, we haven’t been as established a community as some other nationalities or cultures.

There are lots of brilliant Persian people working in food and hospitality. Whether that is in restaurants, hotels, food brands, cafés or suppliers. But we haven’t really had a hub or community that celebrates and brings it all together. 

The whole point of the Persian Hospitality Network was to bring people together and give them a platform to profile themselves that recognises and celebrates them, but also to connect them to other people.


Since we launched, we’ve brought so many people together. Whether it’s a supplier looking to get into a restaurant, consumers looking for Persian wedding caterers, or Persian photographers looking to work with Persian businesses. 

And it’s all non-profit. I work hard to try and connect these people. It’s a passion project for me, it always has been. There’s no commercial element at all and the objective is solely to help the community. I feel a massive debt of gratitude to my culture, and I genuinely want to give back where I can.

If there’s any way I can help people from my community get on and do better and be successful, then that gives me great satisfaction.


Do you think that community is particularly important now given what’s been happening in Iran?

What’s going on in Iran is heart-breaking, and it has been going on for 43 years. But what we have seen recently is this strength of community that has given people the courage to speak out and stand up for their basic human rights. 

Iranian women have been discriminated against for so long and are deprived of very simple things. 

If you can help people, a group, or a community that is being discriminated against, especially if you’re not part of it, it will help facilitate change. It’s so important that people lend their voices to the people of Iran right now.

And it’s really important that we all do what we can to encourage these communities when they are trying to campaign and fight for their basic human rights.


Have you felt the industry has stepped up to support the Persian community?

The hospitality community has been brilliant. The industry is great when it comes to these sorts of things because we are quite a diverse community and we’re very good at getting together and supporting these causes. 

When I initially contacted people to put together a video to raise awareness of what was happening in Iran, people were supportive. I didn’t have to sell it to anybody – people saw what was going on and were keen to get involved. 

The Persian people in the UK food industry have been brilliant but we’ve also had lots of support from others as well – Lorraine Copes, Andi Oliver, Sally Abé, Cyrus Todiwala, Andy Beynon, have all given their voices to it. Also, Persian figures like Kian Samyani from Berenjak, Noda Marvani from Koocha and Leyli Homayoonfar from Bab Haus have been involved.


People have got a lot going on – staff shortages, energy costs, food inflation. Despite that, they’ve been supporting the cause and finding space to help where they can.

We’ve also seen lots of people who have been very supportive of #CookForIran, which we’ve recently launched. What we’re trying to do with that is raise awareness of the human rights issues going on in Iran through food.

I think people can often misunderstand what’s going on because there are lots of different dynamics. At its core, people are being discriminated against because of their gender, their beliefs, their race to some degree, and their sexuality.

Have you encountered any challenges in your career to date?

If I’m honest no, not to my face anyway. But I am Persian and I always wonder if my name was Mohammed and not Piers, would my life have been any different? Would people look at me any differently? I’m always very aware and conscious of this.

Can you name one of your proudest moments whilst working in the industry?

This industry has been brilliant to me at various points in my career. The most recent thing that’s fresh in my mind is the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ video. That was quite a moment for me. Getting so many people from the sector involved was great.

The future of hospitality is…

The future of hospitality over the next two years is going to be challenging, but we’re a very versatile and diverse industry. I’m hopeful that exciting businesses will be born out of the difficulties that we’re facing now.

Read more interviews here.


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