Industry achievements recognised at 15th, annual award ceremony, as Vindaloo Visas spark hope to save the UK’s curry restaurants amid staff shortage crisis
The industry faces fresh challenges with continued Brexit uncertainty
The UK’s most coveted curry restaurateurs once again united in the Capital in the hope of being honoured with a jewel in the crown of the UK curry industry award sector at the annual British Curry Awards in association with Just Eat, which this year marked its 15th anniversary on Monday 25th November 2019 at Battersea Evolution. The trailblazing, pioneering and most respected celebration of the nation’s favourite cuisine, the curry, once again paid homage to the industry’s finest establishments.
Recognised globally as the originator in the UK curry business award sector and the ‘Oscars’ of the industry, as recognised by former Prime Minister David Cameron, British Curry Awards once again welcomed a guest list of leading names from the worlds of politics, sport, film, television, showbiz and entertainment alongside restaurant owners and their staff from across the country. In attendance were Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas; actor Daniel Taylor; models Nell McAndrew, Aisleyne Horgan Wallace, Carla Howe, Danielle Mason; music artist and TV personalities Patti Boulaye, Larissa Eddie, Jay Kamiraz; TV personalities Christopher Biggins, Tim Vincent, Seema Jaswal, Kirsten O’Brien, Nina Myskow, Phil Turner, Howard Brown; footballer Simon Garner; TV and radio presenters James Whale, Shanie Ryan; horticulturalist and TV presenter Danny Clarke; MP Chris Grayling; actress Jasmyn Banks; boxer Frank Buglioni; The Apprentice contestants Lubna Farhan, Scarlett Allen-Horton, Shahin Hassan, Jemelin Artigas, Ryan-Mark Parsons, Pamela Laird, Karthik Nagesan; Masterchef contestant Nisha Parmar; and celebrity makeup artist Gary Cockerill.
As the foremost and pioneering celebration of the UK curry industry’s achievements, British Curry Awards has established itself as a national institution, recognised internationally. A nationwide nominations process to honour the nation’s top curry houses is annually led by the UK public, with the loyal patrons of curry houses on the streets of Britain nominating their favourite Asian restaurants and takeaways. The process of public nominations created an authentic list of the nation’s favourite Asian eateries, based on the opinions of local residents, leading to a rigorous vetting process by an independent panel of judges that selected the best curry restaurants across the UK.
Winners announced on the night:
Best Spice Restaurant in Scotland: Radhuni, Loanhead, Midlothian
Best Spice Restaurant in North East: Mumtaz. Bradford
Best Spice Restaurant in North West: Asha’s, Manchester
Best Spice Restaurant in Midlands: Calcutta Club Restaurant, Nottingham
Best Spice Restaurant in Wales: The Grand Sultan, Port Talbot
Best Spice Restaurant in South East: Kuti’s Brasserie, Southampton
Best Spice Restaurant in South West: Prithvi, Cheltenham
Best Spice Restaurant in Central London & City: Dishoom, Kings Cross
Best Spice Restaurant in London Outer & Suburbs: Shampan, Bromley
Best Delivery Restaurant/Takeaway: Malik’s Express Kitchen, Gerrards Cross
Best Casual Dining: Dabbawal Jesmond, Newcastle
Newcomer of the Year: Kanishka, Mayfair
Beyond celebrating the best in the industry, British Curry Awards also addressed the continued challenges faced by the £4.5 billion curry business. The industry has been in crisis for years, with an average of two restaurants closing down per day and a shortfall of approximately 30,000 skilled workers, due to UK immigration policy. Hope has now been sparked for the industry by the introduction of ‘vindaloo visas’ by Home Secretary Priti Patel; to save the nations curry houses.
Vindaloo visas have lifted the immigration restrictions on the skilled chefs that are the lifeline of the curry industry. The visas have been implemented as a measure before the new, points-based immigration system is introduced post-Brexit, making it easier for restaurants to access the highly skilled chefs they need and offering renewed hope to the struggling industry.
British Curry Awards Founder, Enam Ali MBE, is the UK’s leading spokesperson for the British curry industry and has been promoting it globally for the past 40 years. Speaking at the award ceremony he said,
“British curry has expanded all over the world and we are very proud to be able to recognise that talent and success through the British Curry Awards. We are regarded as the Oscars of the curry industry but with that status comes responsibility. The British Curry Awards is your campaign organisation. We are a £4.5 billion success story but our curry restaurants have been closing their doors at the rate of two or three a day. But that has changed and it is thanks to all the media and politicians who have supported our campaign over the year.
For a year, we have called for more sensible and flexible immigration rules to fix our industry skill crisis. And at last the government has listened and acted and we are seeing the result now. This month, the first ‘vindaloo visa’ has been granted. We have therefore achieved the political consensus that will benefit all restaurants, customers and most importantly you all my friends who have joined us this evening. Let us all enjoy this political success tonight. These awards are not just glitz and glamour, they are awards uniting the British curry industry.”
However, challenges continue for the curry industry in the face of further Brexit extensions and uncertainty. On average, 30% of food imports for the UK curry industry comes from the EU and the Bank of England has raised concerns that food prices for produce such as fruit and vegetables could rise between 5% and 10% once the UK leaves the European Union, a worrying prospect for the curry industry. The industry has raised its concerns about further Brexit delays and the uncertainty this brings, keen to ensure optimum trade deals are secured with the single market once the UK leaves the European Union, to avoid rising food supply costs having an impact on menu prices for diners.
Jeffrey Ali, Event Organiser says,
“As Brexit uncertainty continues through further extensions, the UK curry industry, alongside other valued industries in the UK, is concerned about issues the Bank of England and financial think tanks have raised in terms of potential rising costs of key supplies from the EU. The curry industry relies heavily on food supply imports from Europe and we hope the best deal is secured once the UK leaves the single market, to safeguard against rising costs that will, in turn, impact menu prices for our loyal, local diners. We implore whichever political party is in power on December 13th to negotiate the best exit deal possible to ensure businesses remain competitive and in growth post-Brexit.”