Famed restaurateur Reza Mahammad of London’s Star of India is also a TV chef and cookery book author, his latest being Reza’s Indian Spice. He talks to Tandoori
Bajloor Rashid talks to Tandoori
Movers and Shakers
Jan 2010 - by
Following the annual Bangladeshi Caterers Association dinner, its president, Bajloor Rashid talks to Tandoori.
As the President of the BCA, what sort of responsibilities do you have and what does your work entail?
As president of the BCA my main responsibility is to the members of the association and to represent the interests of Bangladeshi takeaways and restaurants within the British Bangladeshi curry industry. There are approximately 12,000 takeaways, restaurants and catering outlets that serve curry and they employ between them over 90,000 people.
How has the BCA, do you think, made a difference for its restaurant members in terms of improving their interests?
We have made a difference at many levels. For example, we have worked hard to ensure that the important contribution of the curry industry is recognised by the governmental policy makers and we have campaigned and organised meetings and got our members involved in intense lobbying. We are now in the position of working with Government, whereby our opinions are sought out and taken much more seriously. Our efforts are now focused on setting up a British Curry School and setting the standards for the qualifications that will be used for accreditation of chefs for our industry. This is a huge achievement and, we hope, a major step in encouraging our British Bangladeshi youth into taking up chef training.
What is the single most challenging issue that you feel the BCA is currently facing?
We are looking at the present situation where there is an acute shortage of chefs within our industry and we cannot fill the vacancies through with homegrown chefs. We are suffering no fault of our own. However, we must find a way forward that will safeguard our industry and at the same time look to setting up a long-term solution for the industry that is viable.
What is a typical working day for you?
I am involved in lots of business enterprises both at home and abroad but my first passion is curry and the curry industry. I receive hundreds of phone calls each day and my first task in a typical day is to answer the queries from those phone calls. Sometimes it involves visiting restaurants in far-flung areas and listening to the problems being faced by fellow restaurants. I always think about what more can be done to enhance the organisation and benefit our members. Sometimes I look back and try to gauge how things have changed since our forefathers started up the organisation, to support each other and promote the industry. Little did we know then that the Association would be the flagship for the curry industry and that we would be taking the interests of our future directly to the Prime Minister at Number 10 Downing Street.
What do you like to eat and drink?
hese days we are focusing on green foods and I do take a lot of vegetables in my curry meals.
What are your hobbies and how do you relax?
I like badminton. I also like visiting new places and meeting new people. I like to relax whenever possible with my family. They are very dear to me and when I am not at my restaurant or in the office or attending regional meetings, I try to spend time with my children. I am blessed with four children and it is such a joy having them around.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who was humble and honest in every respect. Also, as someone who put the interests of his community before his family and personal achievements.