The unsung heroes behind Britain’s favourite cuisine were recognised and honoured once again at the 12th Annual British Curry Awards in association with Kukd.com on Monday 28th November 2016 at Battersea Evolution, London. The coveted award ceremony paid homage to their achievements as the curry industry faces serious challenge.
Often referred to as the curry industry’s ‘Oscars’, British Curry Awards 2016 was hosted by comedian and impressionist, Alistair McGowan and welcomed luminaries from the worlds of politics, sport, film, television and the arts, as well as celebrity chefs, restaurant owners and their staff from across the country. In attendance were Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York; Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport; celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal; footballer David Seaman; Dancing on Ice star, Frankie Poultney; The Apprentice contestant, Karthik Nagesan; singer Patti Boulaye; actor Colin Salmon; broadcaster and journalist Rageh Omar; TV personalities Lizzie Cundy, Tim Vincent, Saira Khan and Pat Sharp; Members of Parliament, Ann Main, Sharon Hodgson, James Cleverly, Lord Kamlesh Patel and Alex Chalk; and Bangladeshi High Commissioner, MD, Nazmul Quanine
Recognising the value of the curry industry on life in Britain, Prime Minister, Theresa May said via video message, “Today, curry is as close to this nation’s heart as fish and chips. Right now, there must be thousands of British families sitting down to a spicy meal at home and in local restaurants, and curry is as popular in Westminster as it is across the country. And what makes these awards so special, better than any Michelin star, better than any accolade, better than any critic’s writeup, is that they are voted for by the public. They are the restaurants loved by local communities the length and breadth of Britain.
“This evening is also a showcase for the talent, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of Britain’s curry houses. Today, there are around 10,000 restaurants employing 100,000 staff, with an annual turnover of £4.3 billion. This represents a Great British success story, a terrific industry which creates jobs, promotes growth, contributes to the UK economy and raises monies for charities across Britain and around the world. This evening, let us celebrate the Great British Curry and say thank you for bringing people together over a shared love of spicy food. And let us also say thank you to the many heroes of the industry, without whom we would not have this celebration.”
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. The competitive process starts with members of the public nominating their favourite local spice restaurants for entry into the competition. This year, a phenomenal 206,371 public nominations were received via post, app and online, resulting in the nomination of 2,153 restaurants eligible for entry into the competition.
British Curry Awards 2016 winners:
Newcomer of the Year: Darbaar, London
Best Spice Restaurant in London Outer & Suburbs: Shampan Welling, Kent
Best Spice Restaurant in South West: Prithvi, Cheltenham
Best Spice Restaurant in North East: Aakash Restaurant, Cleckheaton
Best Spice Restaurant in Central London & City: Cinnamon Club, Westminster
Best Spice Restaurant in Scotland: Karma, Whitburn
Best Spice Restaurant in South East: Maliks, Gerrards Cross
Best Spice Restaurant in North West: Blue Tiffin, Oldham
Best Casual Dining: Dishoom, Covent Garden
Best Spice Restaurant in Midlands: Asha’s Indian Bar & Restaurant, Birmingham
Best Spice Restaurant in Wales: Sheesh Mahal, Llanelli
Best Takeaway: Chillie Pickle, Brighton
Additionally, the Special Recognition Award honoured the late Lord Gulam Noon.
As well as recognising industry talent and quality, the British Curry Awards highlighted the growing challenges faced by the curry business. It is estimated that 90 per cent of UK curry restaurants are currently affected by a crippling shortage of chefs, which is causing an average of two curry restaurant closures each week.
Addressing the challenges the curry industry is facing, British Curry Awards founder, restaurateur and editor of trade publication, Spice Business, Enam Ali MBE, said at the event, “So much has happened since last year and it is difficult to know where to start. I think most of the people in this country agree that the greatest concern has been Brexit. For us, the unfair difference in UK immigration policy between Europeans and British Commonwealth citizens is why the Curry Industry supported Brexit. The industry had to support vote Leave because we needed a fairer system assured for Britain by people like Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and others. If “Brexit means Brexit”, we must work together to make Britain stronger and more open for business with the rest of the world.
“Now, I hope the present government will rectify this situation by making Britain an example of fairness through equality. This may sound very pro-immigration but, in fact, I believe that the control of immigration for any country is very important. At least I am privileged that the present government seems willing to help us find a pragmatic solution to the current industry crisis.”
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York said, “The reason why I am standing up here tonight is because my father always brought me up on curry because he, for those of you who don’t know, spent a lot of his life in India and he loved going to India. One of his friends flew over to England and decided that he missed my father so much that he spread curry seeds under the window of his office, so for the rest of his life he smelt curry coming in though his window. And so when I came here tonight I thought to myself, Dad would be really proud of me standing up here.
“My grandmother said to me, many years ago, when you feel bad about yourself then go and give to others. In 1993, I started Children In Crisis because I believe that every child has the right to an education. Tonight you gave wonderful speeches and thank you for your sponsorship, but let’s not forget the children – this is why we are here. What are you all doing here if you are not inspiring young people to want to make a difference? What are you all doing here if you are not saying you must not forget children from the poorest areas of the world? And, quite frankly, Children In Crisis is about that. Tonight, at the British Curry Awards, it’s about unity and having fun and inspiring and making people believe in magic and making people believe in good news.“
For the second year in succession, British Curry Awards was sponsored by online booking site, kukd.com. Founder Shelim Hussain MBE said, “It is a great honour to be a part of a well-respected award ceremony that sets the benchmark for all others. These Awards celebrate the achievements of a significant industry within the UK and we are proud of the association.”