UK’s Finest Restaurants honoured at Pioneering and Foremost Celebration of the UK Hospitality Industry, 14th, annual British Curry Awards in association with Just Eat
Industry sector’s most coveted awards presented amid continued uncertainty Around Brexit and Future of the industry
The UK’s leading curry restaurateurs once again descended on the Capital to attend the jewel in the crown of the UK hospitality sector’s annual honours at the 14th British Curry Awards in association with Just Eat on Monday 26th November at Battersea Evolution. The pioneering and foremost celebration of the nation’s favourite cuisine once again paid homage to the industry’s finest establishments, while the industry continues to face uncertainty about its future. Hosted by comedian and impersonator Jon Clegg, British Curry Awards, or the ‘Curry Oscars’ as fondly coined by David Cameron, welcomed a guest list of personalities from the worlds of politics, sport, television, showbiz and entertainment, as well as leading celebrity chefs, restaurant owners and their staff from across the country. In attendance were: comedian, actor, author and activist Russell Brand; MP’s Sir Nigel Farage 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. As the foremost and pioneering celebration of the UK curry industry’s achievements, British Curry Awards has become a national institution in its own right and a key fixture on the hospitality industry’s calendar. A rigorous selection process to honour the nation’s top curry houses was led by the UK public, with the dedicated frequenters of curry houses on the streets of Britain invited to nominate their favourite Asian restaurants and takeaways. The process of public nominations created an authentic list of the nation’s most cherished Asian eateries, based on the opinions of local residents, with award winners announced on the night from category shortlists across each UK region.
As well as recognising industry talent and quality, the British Curry Awards highlighted the continued challenges faced by the curry business. The Asian catering industry is valued at approximately £5 billion. Even so, over the years the industry has witnessed a steep downturn. This decline is largely attributed to the shortage of skilled workers in the hospitality sector, from a lack of talented chefs all the way through to front of house staff. This is due to the UK’s stringent immigration policy relating to skilled workers from outside the EU, coupled with a palpable sense of disinterest among younger people or job seekers with regard to the hospitality sector. The UK curry industry has been in crisis for years, 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 made worse by the unknown implications that Brexit will have on access to skilled workers from outside the EU. One impact of Brexit has already been witnessed by way of rising costs of food produce and supplies due to the weakening pound. The industry is suffering the impact of a Brexit betrayal by pro Leave politicians, who promised restaurants higher inflows from South Asia with easier visa rules, allowing lower salary-thresholds to hire overseas staff and regularising undocumented workers. Instead, the immigration of skilled workers from outside the EU has become tighter, business has suffered and the workers from eastern Europe that the industry has come to rely on are leaving. Furthermore, current rules mandate paying salaries of £35,000 to offer a curry chef’s job to a skilled worker from South Asia, an amount out of reach for most of smaller restaurants, compared to a royal chef position that offers a salary of just over £21,000.