The Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA) has announced that the search for Britain’s best Curry House and Chef of the Year 2019 is on. The theme of this year’s Awards is BCA: The Home of Great British Curry.
The Awards are now in their 14th year. The winners will be announced at a star-studded annual dinner and awards event on 27th October at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge.
With these awards, the BCA recognises the achievements of outstanding restaurants and talented chefs, who have the expertise to create authentic dishes that are full of flavours and who are raising the benchmark of excellence from taste to presentation.
While these Awards mark a time of celebration, there is also an underlying message. The BCA, a powerful organisation representing over 12,000 British Bangladeshi restaurants and takeaways in the UK, wants to remind everyone of its concerns that the Brexit dilemma is causing problems for all industries and communities. This uncertainty is bringing Britain’s curry industry to its knees.
The BCA has been actively campaigning and asking the Government for many years to solve the shortage of skilled chefs that are desperately needed to keep restaurants open, cooking the food they want to serve. This continued shortage of chefs has forced some restaurants to close. The BCA had a large demonstration on 10th July 2018 in front of Parliament, with many thousands of caterers taking part to campaign to save the curry industry.
On 9th September Priti Patel, the Home Secretary announced that she will be unveiling plans to lift immigration restrictions on skilled chefs. It is thought that she may introduce what have been dubbed the “vindaloo visas” to save the nation’s curry houses. This is a victory for the BCA, which is now waiting to hear what these new rules will be.
The BCA is calling on the Government to implement the following.
1. On the Shortage Occupation List, BCA wants to see the salary threshold reduced immediately from £29,000, an unrealistic demand for a small business, to below £20,000.
2. Formalise and recognise undocumented workers, which will immediately provide work placements for skilled chefs. This interim solution will relieve the pressures being experienced for the curry industry and will act as a buffer until a permanent solution begins to work.
3. Find a long-term solution to the current shortage of skills. The BCA calls for an achievable national apprenticeship scheme to be established urgently that will invest in the unique and authentic characteristics of our industry. This should be done by the Government working with the BCA to establish specific training initiatives and programs. This will also create future employment opportunities for the British public.
BCA President Mr M.A. Munim said, “Our strapline this year is a powerful one. “BCA: The Home of British Curry” and our Awards ensure that we continue to acknowledge all the talented people in this dynamic industry who are making British curry. Our members are the blood-line for this industry, and we want to inspire future generations.”
BCA Secretary General Mr Mitu Choudhury added, “We are a proud and a hardworking industry, keeping Britain’s love for curry strong. We need the Government to act and support us. Our Awards give the curry industry an opportunity to prosper, ensuring the growth of the Bangladeshi restaurant community, which is a linchpin of the UK economy.”
BCA Chief Treasurer Mr Saidur Rahman Bipul commented, “The British Curry industry and the country are going through tough times, and in times like this we need to be united. Our Awards help engage stakeholders together, and now in their 14th year, they are highly respected, promoting and supporting the best of what the Bangladeshi restaurant community has to offer.”
Convener Mr M F. Uddin concluded, “I am proud to be part of these BCA Awards, which make a difference not just to our industry but, importantly, to our members and all stakeholders.”
•The sponsors for this year’s BCA Awards are Super Pollo, Chef Online, Lolo Eat, Square mile Insurance, Ghandi Oriental Kansara, Brandpax, Giro Foods Ltd ,Dhaka Regency, Radhuni, Paytap, Aroma Ice crème, Haposa, Bangla Town Cash and Carry and Madhus.