Curry houses are closing at the rate of two a week, the owners of Britain’s curry houses are warning, as younger generations educated in Britain turn to other careers
Curry houses are closing down at the rate of two a week because of a shortage of tandoori chefs, experts say.
Restaurant owners said there was no lack of demand from customers, but that they could simply not find enough chefs to go round.
Enam Ali, a Bangladeshi businessman who runs an Indian restaurant in Epsom, Surrey, said second generation British migrants were turning their backs on a career in the kitchen, while immigration rules were keeping new recruits out .
He said many of those who came to Britain in the 70s were retiring, while their children educated in Britain were choosing other more highly paid careers.
Mr Ali called on the Government to allow two-year working visas so experienced chefs can fly in from abroad.
“The gap is huge,” he said.
“There are 12,000 restaurants. If they need two chefs then that means a gap of 24,000. How do we fill this?
The restaurant owner said recent changes in migration rules had worsened the situation.
Britain puts a cap on skilled migrants arriving from outside the EU and chefs coming in must be paid at least £29,570 a year.
That is £5,000 more than the average salary in the industry.
In a further bind, these skilled workers cannot work in a restarant that also does takeaway food.
The Home Office says it wants to “nurture more home grown talent… and recruit resident workers to meet staffing needs”.
Raju Sattar, who owns a curry house which is facing closure said it had proved impossible to fill chef vacancies .
“We can get people for front of house roles or kitchen staff but not to be a chef.
“The learning process is perhaps too long and sometimes people only come here for three months. The job is too much for them.”
Earlier this year, industry experts expressed fears that up to one third of the 12,000 curry restaurants and takeaways in Britain may close.
The industry, which employs more than 100,000 people, is in jeopardy – and previous government-led ideas to train British, Czech and Polish people as curry chefs had not worked, according to Pasha Khandaker, president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association.
Earlier this year Shabir Mughal, owner of the Spicy Mint in the Curry Mile district of Rusholme, Manchester, said the situation had become “a full-blown crisis”.
“Indian and Pakistani restaurants across the country are in the same situation. The visa criteria make it impossible to bring in the right people,” he said.
“Take poppadoms. People take them for granted, but there is a technique that has to be learned. Every recipe is different and involves special skills.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz, a Labour MP is a vocal critic of the immigration rules.
Mr Vaz, whose family is from Goa, says Indian chefs should be allowed into Britain until there are sufficient numbers trained in this country to fill such posts.
It can take up to five years to train as a curry chef.
Earlier this year a submission to Government from restaurant owners warned that 90 per cent of curry restaurants in the £4bn industry are now “under the threat of a chef skills shortage”.