Founded by restaurateur and editor of trade magazine Spice Business, Enam Ali ‒ who was awarded an MBE in 2009 ‒ the awards are in association with online delivery service Kukd.com, and feature categories split by expertise and geographical region.
Now in their 12thyear, the awards were announced at exhibition hall Battersea Evolution, south London, last night, with the 2016 event coming soon after Ali’s call on Prime Minister May to address the immigration laws relating to Asian chefs’ ability to come to work in the UK.
The categories comprise Best Casual Dining, Best Delivery Restaurant, and Best Newcomer, alongside regional splits of Scotland, North West, North East, Midlands, Wales, South East, South West, London Central and City, and London Suburbs.
There is also the Special Recognition Award, which this year was won by the late Lord Gulam Noon MBE, founder of Indian and Asian food products group Noon Products, and often described as the man to have popularised chicken tikka masala in the UK.
The ceremony was attended by a number of well-known names including chef Heston Blumenthal, TV stars Saira Khan, TV and radio presenter Lizzie Cundy and former footballer David Seaman, as well as the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, and Chris Grayling MP, who spoke on the significance of the sector to the British economy and culture.
Prime Minister Theresa May also gave a speech via video, in which she praised the UK curry industry and said that the dish was “as popular in Westminster as the rest of the country”.
Full list of awards 2016
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: Lord Dulam Noon
BEST CASUAL DINING: The Dishoom group
BEST DELIVERY RESTAURANT IN ASSOCIATION WITH KUKD.COM: The Chilli Pickle, Brighton
BEST NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Darbaar, Shoreditch, London
BEST IN SCOTLAND: Karma, Bathgate, West Lothian
BEST IN NORTH EAST: Aakash, West Yorkshire
BEST IN NORTH WEST: Blue Tiffin, Oldham, Greater Manchester
BEST IN MIDLANDS: Asha’s, Birmingham
BEST IN WALES: Sheesh Mahal, Llanelli
BEST IN SOUTH EAST: Maliks, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire
BEST IN SOUTH WEST: Prithvi, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
BEST IN LONDON CENTRAL AND CITY: The Cinnamon Club, Westminster, central London
BEST IN LONDON SUBURBS: Shampan 3, Welling, south east London
Earlier this month, Ali said that the PM had backtracked on immigration after rejecting calls to relax rules for immigrant chefs, in a move that Ali said could potentially now put the “UK’s curry industry at risk”.
At the time, he said: “Staff shortages mean many of us are struggling to meet customers’ expectations, and it is almost impossible to expand as we would like to.”