Industry achievements recognised as Vindaloo Visas spark hope to save the UK’s curry restaurants amid staff shortage crisis
The industry faces fresh challenges with continued Brexit uncertainty
The UK’s most coveted curry restaurateurs once again united in the Capital in the hope of being honoured with a jewel in the crown of the UK curry industry award sector at the annual British Curry Awards in association with Just Eat, which this year marks its 15thanniversary on Monday 25th November 2019 at Battersea Evolution. The trailblazing, pioneering and most respected celebration of the nation’s favourite cuisine, the curry, will once again pay homage to the industry’s finest establishments, all vying for the most prestigious accolade in their field.
Recognised globally as the originator in the UK curry business award sector and the ‘Oscars’ of the industry, as recognised by former Prime Minister David Cameron, British Curry Awards will once again welcome a guest list of leading names from the worlds of politics, sport, film, television, showbiz and entertainment alongside celebrity chefs, curry restaurant owners and their staff from across the country. Former attendees have included high profile guests such as current and former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson, David Cameron and Theresa May; Sir Vince Cable; Nick Clegg; Duchess of York; Russell Brand; David Seaman and Heston Blumenthal, to name a few.
As the foremost and pioneering celebration of the UK curry industry’s achievements, British Curry Awards has established itself as a national institution, recognised internationally. A nationwide nominations process to honour the nation’s top curry houses is led by the UK public, with the loyal patrons of curry houses on the streets of Britain annually invited to nominate their favourite Asian restaurants and takeaways. The process of public nominations creates an authentic list of the nation’s favourite Asian eateries, based on the opinions of local residents, leading to a rigorous vetting process by an independent panel of judges.
Recognising the impact of the curry industry on local life in Britain, in former attendance at British Curry Awards, Theresa May acknowledged: “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 write-up, is that they are voted for by the public. They are the restaurants loved by local communities the length and breadth of Britain.”
British Curry Awards Founder, Enam Ali MBE, is the UK’s leading spokesperson for the British curry industry and has been promoting it globally for the past 40 years. He says: “As the premier and pioneering award ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the UK’s most exemplary curry restaurants across the UK, British Curry Awards this year celebrates its 15thanniversary and we would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the support we have received consistently over the years from all parties across the political spectrum, as well as from the Royal Household and prominent figures from all spheres of public life. We look forward to continuing to celebrate our industry’s achievements and its contributions to life in Britain at this year’s ceremony. While the curry was born in India, it has been made great in Britain.”
Beyond celebrating the best in industry, British Curry Awards will address the continued challenges faced by the £5 billion curry business. The industry has been in crisis for years, with an average of two restaurants closing down per day and a shortfall of approximately 30,000 skilled workers, due to UK immigration policy. Hope has now been sparked for the industry by the introduction of ‘vindaloo visas’ by Home Secretary Priti Patel; to save the nations curry houses.
Vindaloo visas have lifted the immigration restrictions on the skilled chefs that are the lifeline of the curry industry. The visas have been implemented as a measure before the new, points-based immigration system is introduced post-Brexit, making it easier for restaurants to access the highly skilled chefs they need and offering renewed hope to the struggling industry.
However, challenges continue for the curry industry in the face of further Brexit extensions and uncertainty. On average, 30% of food imports for the UK curry industry comes from the EU and the Bank of England has raised concerns that food prices for products such as fruit and vegetables could rise between 5% and 10% once the UK leaves the European Union, a worrying prospect for the curry industry. The industry has raised its concerns about further Brexit delays and the uncertainty this brings, keen to ensure optimum trade deals are secured with the single market once the UK leaves the European Union, to avoid rising food supply costs having an impact on menu prices for diners.
Jeffrey Ali, Event Organiser says: “As Brexit uncertainty continues through further extensions, the UK curry industry, alongside other valued industries in the UK, is concerned about issues the Bank of England and financial think tanks have raised in terms of potential rising costs of key supplies from the EU. The curry industry relies heavily on food supply imports from Europe and we hope the best deal is secured once the UK leaves the single market, to safeguard against rising costs that will, in turn, impact menu prices for our loyal, local diners. We implore whichever political party is in power on December 13thto negotiate the best exit deal possible to ensure businesses remain competitive and in growth post-Brexit.”