Peppa Pig World has had a huge PR coup in the last week or so since Boris Johnson’s car-crash CBI ‘script malfunction’. But the British curry industry needs no such prime ministerial help, it’s one of the most dynamic parts of hospitality right now, but Boris was still on-hand to offer some gaffes in the name of the cause at last night’s Curry Awards.
The British Curry Awards, dubbed the ‘Curry Oscars’ (by Johnson’s predecessor David Cameron) took place last night. A star-studded affair, it was the first in-person awards since 2019 and spiced up Battersea’s Evolution London.
The big winners at the awards were Handbook faves Benares, which picked up the award for Best Restaurant in inner London and Shampan Bromley, which won the same award for outer London.
Benares are on a run, having been re-Michelin'd back in January...
One of three restaurants, Shampan Bromley has been recognised as a top-ten curry destination seven times but this is the first time they’ve scooped the top award. Meanwhile Benares are on a run, having been re-Michelin’d back in January after the controversial departure of Atul Kochhar saw them stripped of the award back in 2018.
But there was also recognition for Kochhar, with his brand new venture Mathura branded Best Newcomer, in a sign that the great chef is not only back in the fold, but at its forefront.
The PM was still king of florid garble...
As for Boris, unable to attend in person (we’d hope he has bigger fish to fry), he left a recorded message for the gathered luminaries. Given the man is presumably surrounded by handlers and with Peppa Pig ringing in the nation’s ears, the PM was still king of florid garble and, judging by the Curry Awards crowd, presumably one of the secrets to his continued electability. Y’know, despite everything.
Boris’s address started “I’m delighted that one of the greatest events in our gastronomic calendar, the curry Oscars, is back in action, and it’s fantastic to celebrate the genius of our curry restaurateurs who have, for decades, offered their fragrant medleys.
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“Throughout the testing times of the past two years you’ve always responded with resolve and creativity, feeding our NHS heroes and dispatching fleets of mopeds to bring spice to the lives of millions of people at home.”
Customers are returning en masse and curry houses the length and breadth of these islands...
“And now, I’m glad to say, customers are returning en masse and curry houses the length and breadth of these islands are bustling once again. More than 10,000 of them across the whole of the United Kingdom, that’s 200 hundred for every city. Never forget, more in London than in Mumbai.
“And since the British Curry Awards are now in their 17th year with a record number of nominations, we’re not just building back better, we’re building back balti.
We’re not just building back better, we’re building back balti...
“I want to thank you all, restaurateurs, chefs and waiters for blessing us with your flavoursome morsels. And congratulations to all the nominees and of course to the prize winners for your achievements, and have a great evening.”
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But British Curry Awards founder Enam Ali was quick to also ask the PM, ministers and MPs, including Chris Grayling who was in the audience, for help for hospitality “At the British Curry Awards we have always stood up for the causes that matter to the industry. We are all now benefitting from the so-called vindaloo visa which has helped address the chef shortage problem. We will always fight your corner. And the Government does listen to us.
“This year we have received many reports that restaurants that had got high, four or five stars ‘scores on the doors’ in the past from local environmental health officers have been getting marked down to only one or two stars. It seems from the reports we are getting that, often, restaurants are being marked down for fairly minor, technical infringements. Even though these can often be quickly rectified they are having to wait up to six months to be reassessed. This is unfair and is putting many already struggling businesses as they come out of the pandemic on the verge of closure.
Maybe Boris could invite Ali to Downing Street to discuss it over a curry?
“What we are asking for is the government to require local authorities to have a much faster appeal and recertification process, so that those marked down can be reassessed in 4-6 weeks, not 4-6 months. Otherwise we will not be able to play our part in the recovery of our high streets, as this inflexible process will prove the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Whether the government will listen we don’t know, but maybe Boris could invite Ali to Downing Street to discuss it over a curry?
Here are this year’s British Curry Awards winners:
Best Restaurant in central London: Benares, Mayfair
Best Restaurant in outer/suburban London: Shampan Bromley, Bromley
Best Newcomer: Mathura, Westminster
Best in the South East: Chez Mumtaz, St Albans
Best in the South West: Prithvi Restaurant, Cheltenham
Best in Scotland: Dishoom, Edinburgh
Best in the North East: Mumtaz Restaurant, Bradford
Best in the North West: Asha’s, Manchester
Best in the East Midlands: Montaz Newmarket, Newmarket
Best in the West Midlands: Pushkar Restaurant, Birmingham
Best in Wales: Purple Poppadom, Cardiff
Best Delivery Restaurant or Takeaway: Maliks Express Kitchen, Gerrards Cross
Most Innovative Restaurant Concept: Khai Khai Indian Restaurant, Newcastle