December 5 2016
Glittering awards ceremony shows the sector has cultural clout…
By Suman Bhuchar
FOODIES know how to throw a party if the 12th British Curry awards at Battersea Evolution was anything to go by – of course finding the venue is like discovering an Oasis in the desert – and you even bump into joggers!
There were a host of celebrities at the dinner, which drew an audience of around 1,600 and the chief guest was Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
Among the stars attending from the world of entertainment were Colin Salmon (best known for his James Bond film appearances), Karthik Nagesan (from the latest edition of BBC’s “The Apprentice“), chef and TV star, Heston Bluementhal, England footballer, David Seaman, Saira Khan (from a previous edition of “The Apprentice“), and singer Patti Boulaye.
Known popularly as the ‘Curry Oscars’ – they were set up in 2005 by Enam Ali, MBE, proprietor of Le Raj, Epsom and founder of Spice Business Magazine. He is also president of the British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce – and many restauranteurs are of Bangladeshi origin. The country’s high commissioner Nazmul Quaunine was among the high-powered political guests which included MPs Ann Main, Sharon Hodgson, James Cleverly, and from the uppper chamber, Lord Kamlesh Patel.
Sarah, Duchess of York, came looking great in a sari and made a keynote speech. Her charity Children in Crisis, which she founded and is life president, was the charity on the evening.
“It’s fantastic to be here tonight, it’s incredible, I’ve never seen so many people in this space,” she declared, and went on to congratulate Enam Ali and his family.
“I was a little late,” she explained, “because I went a little bit wrong with my sari in the car, so we had to regroup quickly behind the scene.”
Sartorial mishap corrected she revealed to the audience: “The reason why I am standing up here is because my father always bought me up on curry. For those of you who don’t know he spent a lot of his life in India and he loved going to India. So, one of his friends flew over to England and decided that he missed my father so much that he spread curry seeds under the window of his office, so for the rest of his life he smelt curry coming in through his window.
“So when I came here tonight, I thought to myself, ‘Dad you’ll be really proud of me standing up here,’ because it just brings back the unity of countries all over the world!”
She told the audience she began Children in Crisis in 1993 because she believed that every child has a right to an education.
She then went on to implore the audience to “wake up and have some fun and stop being so dull. For heaven sake enjoy yourself! That’s why we’re here!” The Duchess went on to request everyone give a £20 donation each to her cause!
The Prime Minister Theresa May, who spoke at the awards in 2014, when she was home secretary, sent a personal video message inviting the guests to ‘celebrate the great British curry’ – notwithstanding the current labour crisis in the industry (which was not mentioned at all during the night. There is an urgent shortage of chefs).
The event was held in association with kukd.com whose proprietor, a very affable guy, Shelim Hussain MBE, spent time explaining how his app worked for people wanting to order take away food.
Another company, BRF set up in 1934 in Brazil was also a sponsor and its CEO, Colin Norton, described it as a “vertically integrated poultry provider”. It supplies halal chicken under the Sadia brand to markets in the Middle East and UK.
Host Alistair McGowan engaged the crowd by mimicking voices and highlighting his pukka Asian credentials which he discovered thanks to appearing in an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” in 2007. He also has Irish ancestry.
The event was recorded by Colors TV.
Inset picture (top): Colin Salmon; Saira Khan; Patti Boulaye and Karthik Nagesan
The full list of British Curry Award winners 2016
Best Newcomer – Darbaar, London
Best in London Suburbs – Shampan 3, Welling Kent
Best in South West – Prithvi, Cheltenham
Best in London and Central and city – The Cinnamon Club
Best in North East – Aakash, West Yorkshire
Best in Scotland – Karma Restaurant, Whitburn, Scotland
Special Recognition Award – Lord Gulam Noon
Best in South East – Maliks, Buckinghamshire
Best in North West – Blue Tiffin, Oldham
Best in Casual Dining – Dishoom, Covent Garden
Best in the Midlands – Asha’s Indian Bar and Restaurant – Birmingham (owned by the popular Indian singer Asha Bhosle)
Best in Wales – Sheesh Mahal, Llanelli
Best in Take Away & Delivery Service – The Chilli Pickle, Brighton