The Glorious British Curry Awards 2011

Posted on Analysis Mar 2012 - by Tandoori Magazine
The Glorious British  Curry Awards 2011

This year’s British Curry Awards exceeded all expectations, proving to be yet another glorious bash on the spice industry calendar.

 
Over 1500 people, including politicians, businessmen and women, stars from TV and sport, and of course the cream of the country’s curry restaurateurs, packed the Battersea Evolution centre on November 30th to see the pride of the British curry industry receive their just rewards.
 
It was a star-studded and glittering occasion that, as Baroness Warsi, co-chairman of the Conservative Party and one of the guests of honour, remarked, was right up there with the Grammys, Emmys and even the Oscars!
 
Other VIP guests included the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, Employment Minister and MP for Epsom and Ewell Chris Grayling, and Roshanara Ali, MP for Bow. There were also a host of celebrities enjoying the occasion among them Max Clifford, David Seaman, Charlie Brooker and Konnie Huq.
 
BCA founder, Enam Ali MBE gave an important speech at which he announced that major changes would be made for the 2012 event. Perhaps most significantly, he said he will apply to operate the awards under charitable status rather than as a company. “The idea is that any profit can then go back into the industry to help and encourage a new generation to continue improving standards and quality for the benefit of all,” he told the audience.
 
Ali also used the occasion to make two pleas to the government. One was for a reduction in VAT rate for restaurants, to help them get through the recession. “Along with virtually all other sectors in the hospitality industry, we are feeling the squeeze of the spending downturn. If we are not to see our industry contract seriously for the first time, we need some government help to stimulate spending,” he told the audience.
 
“A 5 % VAT cut for the hospitality sector...would help to boost the numbers of people dining out, promote growth, create more jobs and, in turn, bring more money flowing into the exchequer.” 
 
The other request that Ali made was for more assistance in overcoming the recruitment problems caused by the government’s immigration policies. He said: ”There may be more than 2.5 million people out of work in Britain, but I guarantee that none of them are talented curry chefs. With one in every four chefs’ jobs now vacant, we continue to face a skills gap and chef’s crisis in our kitchens. This is not only a major barrier to potential growth, but a significant threat to the future of the curry restaurant sector.”
 
Referring to the fact that the Communities Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, is championing the setting up of a curry college to train people from all backgrounds to become chefs in spice food, Enam welcomed this as a step in the right direction. However he said there could be a better way - using the existing network of catering colleges and universities throughout the country to set up specialist two-year courses in conjunction with local restaurateurs so that students, once equipped with the necessary basic skills, could spend part of their week in college and part learning on the job in a restaurant. “This to us seems a far more practical and potentially less costly solution,” he added. 
 
Boris Johnson and Baroness Warsi also delivered keynote speeches. Acknowledging he was a ‘curryholic’ who has to cycle everywhere to work off the effects of his lifelong addiction to the curry, the Mayor of London spoke about the opportunities presented by the Olympics in 2012. He said, “When the world comes to London next year, one of the reasons they will enjoy themselves is that will find not only the European, but the world capital of curry. There are more spice restaurants here than in Mumbai and Delhi combined and for me the British curry, with its diversity and flavours, sums up the genius of London.”
 
Baroness Warsi charted how the perception of curry in Britain had changed in her lifetime, and observed that the quality and presentation of food had also moved on. She said,”Many restaurants may still be selling mum’s secret recipes, but they have also taken the curry to new levels. And while we may have Michelin-starred curry restaurants, they are never pretentious.”
 
She called for the industry to ‘turn up the heat’ some more, and for more enterprise and entrepreneurial activity. ”We can be the powerhouse of the curry industry not just in Europe, but the world,” she claimed. She also called for curry restaurant owners to become community leaders, standing for council and parliament.
 
Prime Minster David Cameron delivered a video message describing the event as ‘uplifting and inspiring’. Then the evening’s first award, personality of the year, was presented to Shelim Hussain, a former part-time curry house waiter whose business, Eurofoods (UK), now has a turnover of more than £80m and employs over 200 people. Also singled out was Bangladeshi celebrity chef and TV personality Keka Ferdosi who was presented with a Special Recognition award by Boris Johnson. 
 
Top UK celebrity chef James Martin, host of BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, compared the awards which saw Khalid Sami Khan from Birmingham’s Lasan restaurant pick up the first ever Culinary Chef of the Year prize following a five-way cook-off at the University of West London’s School of Hospitality & Tourism. 
 
Other winners on the night were:
Taj Tandoori, Prestwick (Best in Scotland)
Vujon, Newcastle (Best in North East)
Dower House, Doncaster (Best in North West)
Rilys, Redditch (Best in Midlands)
Bokhara Brasserie, Bridgend (Best in Wales)
Haweli, Twyford (Best in South East)
Spice Lodge, Cheltenham (Best in South West)
Tamarind, Mayfair (Best in Central London)
Shampan 3, Welling (Best in London Suburbs)
Cinnamon Kitchen & Anise, London EC2 (Best Newcomer)   
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