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Spice restaurant industry demands fair play at Curry Awards

Spice restaurant industry demands fair play at Curry Awards

Tory party leader David Cameron has praised Britain's £3.5 billion curry restaurant industry for showing what can be achieved when communities come together.

Speaking last week (3 November) at the 2009 British Curry Awards in London, Cameron said: "It's a real pleasure to be here at the Oscars of the spice industry. The British curry industry is a great success story. It's shown how people from all backgrounds, with different creeds and cultures, can come together as one."

By attending the awards dinner at the Battersea Evolution, David Cameron became the first political leader to speak at an event organised by the spice restaurant industry. Earlier he had heard British Curry Awards founder and organiser Enam Ali appeal for help from politicians to help solve a skills shortage that was damaging the curry restaurant industry.

"We recognise that the long-term solution to our staffing problems is to attract and groom our home-grown chefs," said Ali. "The improved profile that these awards have given to our industry is already showing some results, with more young people among the award winners. But this is a slow process and, in the short and medium term, we will still need to turn back to the sub-continent to find many of the skilled people we need to help keep our industry moving forward and meet diners' increasing demands for regional cooking."

Mr Ali said that the points-based immigration system, introduced earlier this year, had done nothing to help their cause. "We were told this would provide us with a sensible solution to our problems. Sadly it has turned out to be anything but," said Ali. "Restaurateurs are still facing problems obtaining sponsors' certificates from the Home Office, which is always a lengthy process, and now we have the requirement for chefs to pass an English test in order to obtain a UK visa.

"Why is it that footballers and football managers can come to work in this country without knowing English but chefs can't? Chefs are in great demand here, but only for their cooking skills. They don't need to know English to cook a damned good curry! When we ask politicians for help and support on this subject, we are not seeking favours. We are merely asking for fairness and common sense."

The regional winners of the British Curry Awards, which are recognised as the ‘Oscars' of Britain's £3.5bn spice restaurant industry, were:

  • Scotland / Northern Ireland: Cinnamon, Aberdeen
  • North East: Aagrah, Garforth, Leeds
  • North West: Indian Ocean, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire
  • Midlands: Lasan, Birmingham
  • Wales: Bokhara Brasserie, Bridgend
  • South East: Jaipur, Milton Keynes
  • South West: Rajpoot, Bath
  • London Central & City: Bombay Brasserie, London SW7
  • London Suburbs: Brilliant Restaurant, Southall

In addition, London's Tayyabs won the Best Casual Dining category for less formal restaurants and Cinnamon Kitchen & Anise, also in London, picked up the Newcomer of the Year Award for establishments that have been open for less than three years.

This year's British Curry Awards winners were chosen from a record 40,000 public nominations covering more than 2700 restaurants.

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