The unsung heroes behind Britain’s favourite cuisine were honoured once again at the 13th annual British Curry Awards on Monday 27th November 2017 in London. The coveted award ceremony paid homage to their achievements as the curry industry faces serious challenge with the number of licensed curry restaurants declining by 13 per cent, with over 1,000 restaurants closing their doors on the UK’s high streets for good, in the last 18 months.
Often referred to as the curry industry’s ‘Oscars’, British Curry Awards was attended by luminaries from the worlds of politics, sport, arts and entertainment, as well as leading celebrity chefs, restaurant owners and their staff from across the country. In attendance were Sir Vince Cable MP, Chris Grayling MP, Brandon Lewis MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, David Seaman MBE, Frankie Seaman, Jimmy White, Jo Wood, Lizzie Cundy, Naughty Boy, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Riz Lateef, Rageh Omaar, Nina Myskow, Patti Boulaye and Stephen Komlosy among others.
Winners at British Curry Awards 2017 were:
- Best Spice Restaurant in Scotland: Sanam Tandoori, Falkirik
- Best Spice Restaurant in North West: Viceroy Carlisle
- Best Spice Restaurant in North East: Mumbai Lounge, York
- Best Spice Restaurant in Wales: Rasoi Indian Kitchen, Swansea
- Best Spice Restaurant in Midlands: Asha’s Indian Bar & Kitchen, Birmingham
- Best Spice Restaurant in South West: Koloshi, Cheltenham
- Best Spice Restaurant in South East: Malik’s Cookham
- Best Spice Restaurant in London Outer & Suburbs: Shampan Bromley
- Best Spice Restaurant in Central London & City: Cinnamon Club, Westminster
- Best Casual Dining: Dabbawal Jesmond
- Best Newcomer: Dishoom, Kings Cross
- Best Takeaway: Chilli Pickle, Brighton
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 four curry restaurant closures each week.
In the last 18 months, the number of licensed curry restaurants has declined by 13 per cent, with over 1,000 restaurants closing their doors on the UK’s high streets for good. The primary contributing factor to the crisis is the government’s immigration policy in relation to skilled workers from outside the EU. Visa applications are often refused and the staff shortages are the main reason why curry restaurants are closing.
Speaking at British Curry Awards, Liberal Democrats Leader Sir Vince Cable said, “If there was ever any doubt beforehand, the shortage of curry chefs is now a crisis. The government received excellent suggestions on how to solve this problem over 18 months ago, but this well-researched 75-page document has sadly gone ignored. Theresa May must revisit these proposals, which include a tightly controlled, one-year work visa, so that our curry restaurants can bring expert chefs to the UK and to train the next generation of curry cooks. We need more urgent measures, including what has been dubbed a ‘vindaloo visa’, to save the nation’s favourite cuisine.”
British Curry Awards founder, restaurateur and editor of trade publication, Spice Business, Enam Ali MBE, said at the event, “Theresa May commended our industry as a shining example of hard work. Now, a curry restaurant closes every week because of the Home Office’s restrictive policy that prevents skilled workers from outside the EU from coming over. This new legislation has been strangling our industry. How many British people want to work in a curry restaurant as a chef or a waiter? Evidence shows it’s next to none. We remain hopeful that our proposal provides a starting point for an answer to this crisis.”
At the ceremony, Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis, acknowledged the problems facing the UK curry industry and indicated he will work closer with the industry to achieve solutions to the current problems.