Celebs and politicians assemble virtually to mark the 16th Annual British Curry Awards, British curry houses give away five million free meals during Covid-19 pandemic
Better known as the ‘Curry Oscars’, this year’s event took place online for the first time. The ceremony was hosted by comedian Rory Bremner and featured guest presenters from the worlds of politics and entertainment.
The awards, sponsored by Just Eat, are a landmark event in the hospitality industry calendar. Yesterday’s extravaganza recognised the efforts of restaurants, chefs, and industry stalwarts, and the extraordinary efforts of this amazing, resilient industry, which is worth £5bn to the British economy.
The ceremony also paid tribute to the unsung heroes of the pandemic who have gone the extra mile for their local communities; the country’s first-generation curry restaurateurs who are now elderly with underlying health issues and as well as the early ‘curry pioneers’ who created the industry we know and love today in the 1960s and 1970s.
New analysis by the British Curry Award and industry’s trade journal Spice Business Magazine found UK curry houses have given away more than five million free meals to key workers and the vulnerable during the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
The average cost of curry with rice is around £9. This means the industry has donated more than £45m in food to key workers, including frontline NHS staff and the needy, since the first lockdown in March.
This generosity has taken place despite the acute economic pressure on curry houses and the wider hospitality industry throughout the crisis. The curry industry was already struggling with a skills shortage, which was contributing to an alarming rate of restaurant closures pre-Covid.
A recent documentary, The Curry House Kid, estimated that half of all the country’s 12,000 Indian restaurants could close in the next decade.
Andrew Kenny, the UK managing director of British Curry Awards sponsor Just Eat, said: “It’s been a very challenging year for the hospitality sector and we are so proud to help celebrate the exceptional people within our industry who have been working tirelessly throughout, not just by feeding the nation but providing so much vital support to their local communities.”
Enam Ali MBE, the founder of the British Curry Awards, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to keep the Curry Oscars going even through this traumatic time. The winners this year are among the most exceptional we have known, feeding our friends, loved ones, and those who have defended us throughout this awful pandemic.
“More broadly, it’s extraordinary how the whole industry has kept so many people fed this year. The great British curry is not only central to British life, it is a key part of seeing us through this pandemic. As an industry worth around £5bn, we also have a crucial role to play in the recovery.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We are all experiencing very challenging times in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for the UK restaurant industry. It is therefore heartening and fitting that the theme for this year’s event is to reward and celebrate all the unsung heroes in the restaurant industry during the pandemic.”
“They have selflessly, tirelessly, and, without prompting, gone out of their way to help their local community, the vulnerable, elderly, isolated, and the NHS by supplying much-wanted curries, kindness, and support.”
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “It has been an extremely difficult year for curry restaurants who have faced immense challenges as a result of the Covid pandemic. Restaurateurs and their staff have shown extraordinary resilience and worked tirelessly to adapt and provide a safe environment for their customers whilst continuing to deliver excellent service throughout these uncertain times. Yet despite these difficult times, it is heartwarming that many restaurateurs have gone out of their way to provide a vital helping hand to those in need during the pandemic.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “We all know that is has been a tough year for the hospitality industry, which makes the industry’s efforts and the support they have given to our communities all the more impressive.
“Robin Cook famously declared chicken tikka masala to be a true national dish’. He was right about that, but I must admit I prefer a chicken Balti. There is no doubt that the curry house is absolutely integral to British life, never more so than this year.”
This year’s winners in full:
BEST LONDON RESTAURANT IN THE PANDEMIC – ATUL KOCHHAR KANISHKA LONDON
This award is for Best London Restaurant for Takeaway Service in the Pandemic. A pioneering chef and TV personality, they have adapted their service during the pandemic, providing takeaways and extending the government to eat out to help out scheme
INSPIRATIONAL WOMAN AWARD- PERVIN TODIWALA CAFÉ SPICE NAMASTE
This award is for a woman who has co-founded Namaste, playing an instrumental role in the family businesses. Trained as a chef at Bombay’s Institute of Hotel Management and working at the Taj Mahal Intercontinental, she faced cultural obstacles in a male dominant environment. She has tirelessly worked behind the restaurant businesses, raising two sons and supporting highly demanded celebrity TV chef Cyrus Todiwala.
ENTREPRENEUR AWARD- JALF ALI DABBAWAL/ KHAI KHAI NEWCASTLE
This individual has operated many restaurants through the DABBAWAL brand across Newcastle. He recently launched a unique concept restaurant, Khai Khai, in the challenging pandemic despite all the obstacles and restrictions faced.
FAMILY RESTAURANT TEAM OF THE YEAR- GULU ANAND BRILLIANT RESTAURANT SOUTHALL
This award is for a well-established restaurant that continues the legacy handed down through four generations. They have built a family brand and, through the restaurant, father Gulu Anand has helped to create and pave the way for his daughter, celebrity tv chef Dipna Anand
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON- DABIRUL ISLAM CHOUDHURY OBE
This humble centenarian had a restaurant in St Albans during the 60s. He has raised more than £420,000 to help people affected people by Covid-19. His initiative surpassed expectations and went on to help many charities, including people in the UK’s Bangladeshi and Muslim communities.
OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO LOCAL COMMUNITY IN THE PANDEMIC- ZAKIR KHAN ZYKA RESTAURANT READING
This restaurant has helped NHS staff with discounts, as well as assisting those who needed grocery/ pharmacy shops and reaching out through Facebook to those who may require to need free meals.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE CURRY INDUSTRY- CHIEF REPORTER MOHAMMAD JUBAIR, CHANNEL S
This recipient is a selfless humanitarian and community activist journalist for Channel S for over many decades. He has tirelessly kept the community well informed with his unique style of reporting, and fair analysis, and delivering groundbreaking stories on chef shortages, the vindaloo visa, restaurant closures, as well the continuous government guidelines policies surrounding the pandemic.
BEST TAKEAWAY AWARD DURING THE PANDEMIC- SAFWAAN CHOUDHURY, BRITISH RAJ TAKEAWAY
This award is for a young man whom his father is shielding due to various illness. The NHS has provided great care for his father and, having witnessed NHS staff going to supermarkets with empty shelves, he donated over 3,000 free meals. Another 500 meals will be donated to NHS and to the local vulnerable during this Christmas. He has recently announced the hero of Hertfordshire for his service to his local community of Hertfordshire.
OUTSTANDING SERVICE DURING THE PANDEMIC- HABIBUR KHAN RADHUNI SCOTLAND
This restaurant has shown great initiative and community spirit, creating an outdoor glass fibre canopy above their gardens to allow for outdoor dining safely. They also served 4,000 free meals to the NHS, blue light workers, ambulance, fire, police, pharmacy, and care home staff.
LEADERSHIP AWARD IN THE PANDEMIC- SALIM CHOUDHURY PRESIDENT, BRITISH BANGLADESHI CATERERS ASSOCIATION
This recipient through his leadership has tirelessly campaigned for his member to come together for NHS frontline heroes, as well as campaigning for various policies and changing guidelines affecting the curry industry. Through his leadership, BBCA members have served over 25,000 meals to the homeless, NHS, and hospices.
OUTSTANDING SERVICE IN THE PANDEMIC- NAZ ISLAM SAFFRON RESTAURANT NORTHAMPTON
This award is for the remarkable efforts they have gone through to donate thousands of free meals to doctors and nurses at Northampton General Hospital, as well as surplus stock to food banks. They also launched a local hero competition for the community members. A true community champion.
OUTSTANDING SERVICE IN THE PANDEMIC- SUJIT D’ALMEIDA URBAN TANDOOR BRISTOL
This restaurant has gone out of its way to help those in quarantine as a result of coronavirus by delivering free food.
UNSUNG CHEF AWARD- RAHMAN SHAH EASTLEIGH
This particular award winner was nominated by his daughter, who praised his father’s tireless hard work in the kitchen, building a life for his family here in the UK. He, along with many others, represent the unsung chefs who are the backbone of the curry industry but never had an opportunity to be recognized.