The UK’s leading curry restaurateurs, and many top names from the worlds of politics, entertainment and sport, once again descended on London’s Battersea Evolution last November for the 14th British Curry Awards. As the premier celebration of the UK curry industry’s achievements, the British Curry Awards has become a national institution in its own right and a key fixture on the hospitality industry’s calendar, a fact highlighted by the international coverage and prominence given to the awards, which this year were sponsored by JustEat
A rigorous selection process to honour the nation’s top curry restaurants was led by the UK public, with customers across the land invited to nominate their favourite restaurants and takeaways. Following the public nominations process a shortlist of the nation’s favourites was created, from which the award winners from each UK region were selected by an experienced judging panel.
This year the well-deserved winners announced on the night were:
Best Spice Restaurant in Scotland: Light of Bengal, Aberdeen
Best Spice Restaurant in North East: Mumtaz, Bradford
Best Spice Restaurant in North West: Indique, Manchester
Best Spice Restaurant in Midlands: Pushkar, Birmingham
Best Spice Restaurant in Wales: Rasoi Waterfront, Swansea
Best Spice Restaurant in South East: Maliks Restaurant Cookham, Maidenhead
Best Spice Restaurant in South West: Koloshi Indian Restaurant, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham
Best Spice Restaurant in Central London & City: Baluchi, Tooley Street, SE1
Best Delivery Restaurant/Takeaway: Chilli Tuk Tuk, North Finchley, London N12
Best Casual Dining: Dabbawal High Bridge, Newcastle
Newcomer of the Year: Dishoom, Edinburgh
Inspiration Award: Asha Bhosle
Special Recognition Award: Chef Rezual Karim from Stockholm
As well as recognising industry talent and quality, the British Curry Awards highlighted the continued challenges faced by the curry business. In recent years the industry has experienced a steep decline which is widely attributed to the shortage of skilled workers in the hospitality sector, creating a lack of talented chefs and experienced front of house staff. This is primarily due to the UK’s stringent immigration policy relating to skilled workers from outside the EU, as well as a seeming disinterest among younger people or job seekers in the UK with regard to the hospitality sector.
The Awards highlighted the fact that UK curry industry is in crisis, with an average of one restaurant now closing down per day and a shortfall of approximately 30,000 skilled workers required to fill the immediate staffing gap. The situation has now been made worse by the uncertain implications that Brexit will have on access to skilled workers from outside the EU. One impact of Brexit that has already been witnessed is the rising cost of food produce and supplies due to the weakening pound.
British Curry Awards founder, Enam Ali MBE, is the UK’s leading spokesperson for the curry industry and has been promoting it globally for the past 35 years. He said: “It’s with immense pride that we continue to honour the achievements of the UK curry industry while paying respect to the innovations and entrepreneurship of the first generation of curry restaurateurs in the UK. They paved the way for future generations and introduced now iconic culinary innovations such as the poppadum with chutney, that have gone on to become a classic for every UK diner’s palette. Fast forward to today and staff shortages mean many of us are struggling to meet customer expectations, and it is almost impossible to expand as we would like to. I hope the government will rectify this situation by making Britain an example of fairness through equality.”
Hosted by comedian and impersonator Jon Clegg, the so-called ‘Curry Oscars’ had a guest list of personalities that made it, as always, a glamorous and star-studded event. Along with over 1500 attendees, they enjoyed first rate food and entertainment, as well as applauding the achievements of the winners. Those VIPs in the audience included comedian Russell Brand; MPs Sir Vince Cable, Chris Grayling, Brandon Lewis and Baroness Verma; footballer David Seaman MBE and Frankie Poultney; comedian Hardeep Kohli; The Apprentice contestants Jasmine Kundra, Daniel Elahi and Kurran Pooni; TV personalities Kirsten O’Brien, Nina Myskow and Pat Sharp; singer Patti Boulaye; models India Harl and Ramzan Miah; and DJ Neev Spencer among others.
Preparations for the 15th annual British Curry Awards are already underway. Please look out for details about how to nominate and take part in this important event.