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Curry Life celebrates a spectacular 10th Anniversary Annual Awards

Curry Life celebrates a spectacular 10th Anniversary Annual Awards

The extravagant Curry Life Awards Ceremony of 2019 took place on Sunday the 3rd November, showcasing the best of the British curry industry. Prior to the grand celebration, the magazine hosted its second World Curry Expo during the day. The Expo was dedicated to the members of the culinary industry, with numerous services and products on display. However, we all know that everyone was waiting for the evening, the dusk to settle, the night to begin and the fireworks to start. The Curry Life Awards of 2019 was nothing less than a night filled with inspiration and heightened awe. A glamorous and glitzy black tie evening, celebrated with style and pizazz inside the Grand Luxury Ballroom of London’s prestigious Hilton Park Lane. The room was filled with lots of sparkle, excitement, entertainment and much eagerly awaited recognition of the tremendous pioneers and legendaries of the culinary industry.

The Celebration’s Opening

The event started with an unexpected explosion of a sparkling Bollywood musical performance by The Angel Dance group to the Bollywood hit song, “Chittiyan Kalayan”. This uplifting and mesmerising performance left the audience in awe and anticipation.

The glamorous ceremony was hosted by Channel 4 News broadcaster journalist Cathy Newman, who began the event with an interesting anecdote on cooking up a Chicken Jalfrezi. Alongside Newman was co-host and BBC Presenter Adam Shaw, who stressed the importance and cultivation of determination and resilience. Shaw elegantly emphasised the significance of working hard, putting in effort and working extra hours. The focus on promoting the curry industry was definitely food for thought.

The Editor’s memorable speech

The Curry Life Editor, Syed Belal Ahmed, gave a wonderful overview on the history and journey of the Curry Life Awards Ceremony, focusing from the magazine’s humble beginning in 2009 to its extravagant growth in its 10th year at the Hilton London Park Lane. Another tribute was made in addition for the pioneers and teachers who have left their mark in the curry industry for our future generations. He particularly said, “ We are very proud to honour the extraordinary curry heroes who have left behind a legacy, without them the curry industry would not be what it is today”. The importance of the enormous contribution that British Curry Chefs have had on the economy, especially at the time of another General Election, and the uncertain state of Brexit in British history is definitely worth celebrating.

Headline Sponsor Matt Bushby of Just Eat says;

“The Curry industry is an iconic part of British Culture and continues to play a vital role on the Just Eat platform. Running a business in this sector is truly demanding. Just Eat recognizes that how important it is to recognize the curry industry as they grow and develop there businesses and we are campaigning to make sure that it is nurtured either through immigration or home grown talent and also actively supporting take-aways to support healthier choices whether they are eating out or ordering in.

A Bittersweet opening from

Lord Bilimoria of Cobra Beer

Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, of Cobra Beer being the sponsor of Curry Life and the strongest voice of the curry industry eloquently claimed, “ The awards recognise the dedication, hard work, determination and success of the members of the Curry Industry in the UK as well as the industry’s tremendous contribution to the British Economy. The Curry industry employs over 100,000 people with sales of billions of pounds and contributing hugely to the Exchequer every year.

We have had such significant change over the past three decades with the increase in the ability of people to travel affordably all over the world; with the galloping advance in mobile communication over the past two decades; and with the phenomenal rise of the Internet over the past two decades. The industry has had to keep abreast of all these changes, not just cope with them, but to adapt and take advantage of the benefits of these changes whilst also trying always to be ahead of the curve. Curry Life magazine has a vital role in helping the restaurants in this continually, rapidly changing world we live in. There was a key emphasis from Lord Bilimoria about putting back into the restaurant industry, which genuinely inspired the winning chefs of the night. He also quoted from Mahatma Gandhi that “ You have to live as if you are going to die tomorrow and you learn as if you are going to live forever”.

The Nominated Award Categories of 2019

The Editor’s Choice Awards for the best restaurants of 2019

The Curry life Editor’s Choice Awards were the first to be given out. This special category saw various talented chefs collecting awards, including a range of curry connoisseurs from The Taj Cuisine, Shampan Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge, The Whitecroft Indian Restaurant, The Himalaya Restaurant, Blue Tiffin Restaurant and the Riverside Spice.

The Best Take Away Awards 2019

The Best Takeaway Award was handed out to Fusion Food Takeaway, St Albans, Tiffin Take-away in Chesterfield, Little India Takeaway in Bolton, Surma Takeaway in Stevenage and Mahim Indian takeaway, Shrewsbury.

The Best Restaurant Award 2019

The best restaurants in the nominated winner list were; Ruhel Hoque of The Indian Ocean Restaurant in Cambridge. Badal Miah from the Paprika Restaurant in Hitchin, Akhtar Miah of Forts of India Restaurant in Malpas, Cheshire. Rezwan Ahmed of Le Raaj Restaurant in County Durham. Abu Mojid of Chandini Restaurant, Sawbridgeworth. Mohammed Choudhury of Viraj Indian Cuisine, Cornwall. Imran Ahmed of Oasis Restaurant in Batley. Mohid Miah of London House Restaurant, in Staffordshire. Surman Ali, Deshi Spice Restaurant in Bedford. Naim Rahman of The Indian Brasserie in South Tyneside. Zakir Khan, of Zyka Indian Eatery in Reading. Shamim Ahmed of Jolsa Indian Restaurant in Teeside. Asrafur Rahman of New Delhi Restaurant in Grays, Essex. Syedur Rahman of The Milnrow Balti, Rochdale and Suhel Ahmed of Noor Jahan Restaurant in Surrey.

Best European and International Awards 2019

The European Awards which went to Muskot Kok and Bar, in Stockholm in Sweden, Risul Amin who is the founder of the new Muskot Restaurant said “ with a new approach to Bangladeshi Cuisine and introducing The traditional Bengali Thali, became a natural step that goes completely in line with our philosophy of food and sustainability.”

Best International Honour Award 2019

Subrata Debnath Business Head and General Manager of the Zamindari themed boutique hotel Raajkutir Swabhumi in Kolkata, is also a multi-talented star in India’s hospitality 5 Star dining scene. The hotel depicts The British Era in India, being one of the prestigious flagship hotels of Ambuja Neotia Group. Working previously as the Executive Chef of the Hyatt, Hilton and Taj Hotel chains, he has won the silver medal in the Middle East Food Festival, aswell as having the privilege to serve to the Presidents and Prime Ministers of India along with other VIP dignitaries from across the world.

Mr Subrata said “ I feel honoued and privileged to be part of the International Curry Life Awards and to Mr Ahmed and Mr Pasha for inviting me to London from Kolkata. Thank you Curry Life for giving me this privilege.”

Curry Life International Hospitality Award 2019

Platinum Lounge is a new category introduced for new innovation in the industry designed for international travellers going into Sylhet. The new premium lounge is being created to serve up high-end hospitality, top quality restaurant and coffee lounge in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Owner and winner of the award Musleh Ahmed said “This award has inspired us to make more projects in hospitality of an international standard, thank you Curry Life.”

The Curry Life Best Chef Awards of 2019

The Best Chef nominees were; Harun Miah from Lea Cross Tandoori, from the town of Shrewsbury, Babul Hussain from Black Peppers Restaurant in Wrexham. Chef Abdul Aziz, from Tikka Tikka Indian Restaurant in North Yorkshire. Chef Nazrul Islam from Biggles Lounge, Bedfordshire. Chef Ruhel Rahman, from iNaga Restaurant in West Wickham.

The Customers Choice Awards 2019

This is another category where customers nominated for a specific set of restaurants to win and presenting this category of awards. The first to collect the award was Jaminoor and Joinul Choudhury from River Spice in Fareham, starting at a very young age in the industry, they have made a mark for their loyal customers. Next in the running was The Taste of Nawab in Muswell Hill. Owner Abdul Rahman who likes to do things differently, by acknowledging and encouraging children’s input; he says “hard work and dedication are the keys to success, goodwill has its own rewards and the children of today are tomorrows customers it’s important not to ignore them”. Its customers also nominated the Bengal Lounge, based in County Durham. Owner Mohammed Bahar said “Our customers have been very supportive about nominating us and we have been so excited about being at the awards this year”.

The Prestigious Curry Life M A Rahim

Memorial Award 2019

The prestigious annual Curry Life Memorial Award was given to in commemoration of late caterer, M A Rahim and the recipient for this award was former Secretary General of the BCA, Mr Ashraf Uddin. In 2018 Curry Life introduced an award in memory of late M A Rahim legendary Bangladeshi caterer. An award named after a truly inspirational individual, who owned one of the largest chains of curry restaurants during late 80s and early 90s. He demonstrated formidable statistical prowess when he established economic data for the UK curry trade. This inspirational businessman passed away due to a heart attack one year before the millennium. He was only 48 years old. This prestigious award presented by Pina Rahim the daughter of late M A Rahim and Syed Nahas Pasha, Editor-in-Chief of Curry Life.

The Final Lifetime Achievement Award of 2019

This spectacular award was presented by Rushanara Ali, MP of Bethnal Green and Bow giving an astounding speech to celebrate the contributions of past generations of curry masters who have placed a special place in the hearts of the British Asian and Bangladeshi communities and the need for wanting hot curries throughout the elections and tough campaigns luring ahead next month. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Surojit Walawalker, in appreciation of his transient culinary journey and celebrating his lifetime contributions, dedicated service and passion to the British Curry Industry. He is our pioneer behind introducing Indian Beer to UK Curry Industry. Mr Walawalker said “ I am deeply honoured and want to thank all the people who have played an important part in my life over 45 years. My first entry to the UK beer market was with Kingfisher, which was a difficult and an impossible task, but we managed to make it through. I can say that neither Cobra Beer nor I could have achieved anything without a valuable and excellent sales force and team to breakthrough to the UK market. A massive congratulations to Syed Pasha, Syed Belal, and the Curry Life team, for their drive, excellence and passion. They have taken the Chefs; the Restaurateurs and the whole curry industry to another surprising level. I am the last generation and you are the new generation. Long live your vision and enterprise”.

The last part of the evening ended with a heart warming closing speech by Mr Syed Nahas Pasha, Editor in Chief of Curry Life. The event was then amazingly greeted by Brit-Asian singer, Arjun who performed a collaboration of Bollywood and English fusion songs. This was followed by the highly anticipated dinner provided by Madhu’s with house specialities of traditional curries, selections of rice and a combination of traditional Indian desserts. There was also the famous addition of ‘ Sweet Paan’ at the end and I found myself telling my fascinated table colleagues about the purpose and history of this delicacy in South Asian culture. The gentlemen seemed to become very upbeat and merry about the translation of the Bollywood song (Having a shot of vodka and dancing with them). I was smiling every moment. seeing my fellow English colleagues enjoying the Bollywood music. However soon thereafter, I had a chance to catch up with some of the guests, VIPs and award winners to obtain a few words about the enlightening event of 2019. Here’s what they have to say about the evening and the future ahead of us.

How do you feel about receiving an award today?

“Firstly, I would like to say congratulations to Curry Life on the 10th year. It was an honour to be a recipient of The Curry Life award 2019 and this made the event a memorable one for me, and my guests. It was an amazing evening with food, entertainment and resulted in a rare opportunity to network with those in the industry. The Curry Life Magazine has great articles and information that will benefit those in the catering trade”.

(Suhel Ahmed, Owner and winner of Noor Jahan Restaurant)

How do you feel the awards contribute to the curry industry?

“The curry industry has become a central feature of British life and culture – and with good reason. The food is delicious and made life so much richer when first introduced in the UK when I was growing up. The exotic flavours made a wonderful change from the standard British fare of ‘meat and two veg’. I remember being invited to celebrate the Queen’s birthday in Cambodia and amongst the fish and chips, Cornish pasties and Scottish haggis, by far the most popular option was Chicken Tikka masala, now officially a British dish! Events like the awards dinner, together with magazines like Curry life are important in reminding people of the important role of the industry socially, culturally and economically in maintaining the UK as a diverse society. The awards provide an incentive to all involved in the industry to maintain this contribution”. (Geoffrey Payne Principal of GPA. International Housing and Urban Development Consultants)

“We will continue to show our support to the Currylife Team, who organised the programme really well. The evening was well attended, a brilliant service and food and the atmosphere and entertainment was most astonishing”.

(Atique Chowdhary Businessman and Restaurateur)

So the big question hanging over our heads, being a prominent restaurateur, what are your thoughts about the affect of Brexit on the curry industry?

For those that have no contingency in place it will be too late. The food industry will be the first to be affected if the government doesn’t find ways to ease the initial disruption and the costs will increase. The Government will need to intervene e.g.: reduce VAT, rates and postpone any minimum wage increases. As for restaurateurs it will be about making harsh choices and taking measures to mitigate price increases in goods. e.g. “ temporary menu price increases. Staff agreement in salary sacrifice and extreme measures. However remaining positive and with confidence, businesses can find ways to overcome such adversity. Being responsive and reacting to changes is crucial.

(Faz Ali, Businessman, Shifnal Balti Restaurant, Shropshire)

Making a conscious effort to excel the awards even further and the event becoming a major milestone and inspiration for the people of the industry, we want to make the Curry Life Awards stronger, expanded and more diverse than ever. Meanwhile being the last event of the decade, the exciting categories of the international, European and Lifetime achievement additions have made this event a world- class game-changer.

Not to forget this couldn’t be achieved without the support of our sponsors and supporters. So once again thank you to Just Eat, Cobra Beer, Unisoft Solutions, Travel Link, Greater than Gin, Print Today and Pride Factors and The Curry Life Awards Team, we look forward to seeing another spectacular event on Sunday 15th November 2020 at The Royal Lancaster Hotel landscaped over two grand floors, so be prepared to be amazed even more in 2020.

By Tahira Khan

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