Top curry establishments in Bradford have been hailed the best of the best, after winning their categories in the inaugural Bradford Curry Awards.
Bradford is the current holder of the national Curry Capital of Britain title for the sixth year running and the local awards were launched to promote pride in Bradford and profile the industry’s rich heritage.
The winners were announced at a prestigious awards ceremony held at the Cedar Court Hotel, in Rooley Lane, Bradford, on Tuesday night. (April 17)
The winners were:
BEST RESTAURANT – JUDGES’ CHOICE
(Chosen by a panel of expert judges who visited the five shortlisted establishments as mystery diners).
BEST RESTAURANT – PEOPLE’S CHOICE
(Chosen by public vote – with more than 6,500 people voting for their favourite establishment from the five shortlisted nominees.
Mohammed Hussain of My Lahore
BEST OUTSIDE CATERER
Tied between Sultan and My Lahore
BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE
A surprise innovation award went to My Lahore for their success in harnessing the digital era and special recognition awards were given to women chefs Kaushy Patel and Sabra Kader.
More than 300 people attended the awards ceremony where they were treated to the first-ever Royal Bradford Thali, a sumptuous banquet put together by the five finalists in the Best Restaurant, Judges’ Choice category – Jinnah, Shimla Spice, Café Akbars, Sultan and Prashad.
The event was compered by the highly amusing London comic Salman Malik.
Bradford Curry Awards Founder and Director Fatima Patel introduced the event and thanked everyone for their support and their contribution to Bradford and the local economy.
She used the occasion to launch a powerful campaign to attract more people into the industry. She said while the UK had around 250,000 professional chefs, with 48% of these being female in 2001 this had dropped to 18% in 2016.
She said: “As a woman putting on this major event I have had massive support from all these business owners who are here tonight, so I can see that the industry in Bradford is ready to lead on this cause. I’m now calling on all the business owners in the room to get behind a target and pledge to attract more women into the industry by this time next year.”
CEO of Bradford Council, Kersten England said the industry is worth £4billion to the national economy – with 23 million people regularly consuming curry meals and £500,000 of this was contributed by Bradford.
She said: “To me, the question is, why haven’t we had our own curry awards before? Bradford has its critics but is well thought of in certain fields and curry is one of them, so we should be proud of it. We have more than 200 curry establishments including some very big names, but also dozens of fantastic little restaurants.
“Curry is as synonymous with Bradford as Hockney, J B Priestly, the Woollen Mills and our stunning moors.”
She also praised the generosity of the industry in Bradford saying that businesses helped to feed thousands of people in need ensuring that they don’t go hungry.”
After enjoying a range of street food and networking in a colourfully-decorated marquee guests sat down to an evening of entertainment and award announcements.
There was dance, courtesy of the young people from Trishool Dance Academy from Leeds.
Palestinian Chef and Marathon runner Mohammad AlQadi did a culinary arts demonstration challenging the curry experts to dress a dish.
He was the guest of International humanitarian charity Penny Appeal, the chosen charity for the night, who raised £10,000 in pledges to pay for a water tank in Gaza.
BBC Voice of Bradford Faisal Motin, performed a rap, written specially for the occasion, entitled 100 Places (to eat in Bradford).
There were presentations by David Wilson of Bradford UNESCO City of Film, a surprise appearance in the form of Bollywood Producer Sunil Bohra and Arjun, the British Sri Lankan singer-songwriter, record producer and actor who is currently the most viewed UK Asian artist on YouTube, with over 250 million views.
Fatima said: “Apart from a few technical glitches, I am extremely delighted that the event went really well. Everyone had a great time, the food was exceptional – after all it did come from our award-winning finalists backed by a fantastic catering management team, Sukkur Cuisine.
“Congratulations to all the winners, but also to the finalists, who should be proud of making it to the final five. I look forward to inviting you all back in 2019!”
Photo credit: Riaz Ahmed and Jenny @Dilkash Productions