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Apprenticeship scheme to tackle cap crisis

New programmes for chefs specialis- ing in Asian and Oriental cuisine could prove vital in preparing the UK’s ethnic restaurants for changes to immigra- tion policy, sector skills council People 1st has suggested. Specialist options for Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Thai cuisines are now available to those taking the new apprenticeship in hospitality and catering, which was launched by People 1st earlier this autumn. The new apprenticeship routes were developed following in-depth con- sultation with key employers, includ- ing those on People 1st’s Asian and Oriental advisory panel, and include units on dim sum, noodles, spices and herbs and using a tandoor, skills that were previously not taught within work-based learning programmes in the UK. The opportunity to develop chefs with these specialist skills in the UK could provide a lifeline for many Asian and Oriental restaurant businesses, as changes in immigration policy could threaten the survival of those reliant on recruiting from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA). Although skilled chefs are currently included on the shortage occupation list, which means that they can be recruited more easily from outside the EEA, the govern- ment has indicated that they could be removed, while the impending immi-

gration cap is likely to have an impact on the number of staff that businesses can recruit from overseas. People 1st’s research and policy direc- tor, Martin-Christian Kent, says “For many of the UK’s Asian and Oriental restaurants, recruiting chefs from out- side the EEA has been the only way that they could gain access to the special- ist skills they need, but this approach could be disastrous if immigration leg- islation changes. The new apprentice- ships aim to provide a route for chefs within the UK to develop those special- ist skills, and to create a pool of talent that Asian and Oriental restaurants can tap into.” Mr Kent accepts that they will not replace the need for some employers to recruit chefs with skills from very specific locations, but he argues they will go a long way towards support- ing the needs of the majority of ethnic restaurants. Employers from Asian and Oriental catering businesses have been actively involved in the development of the new programmes. Well known chef, Cyrus Todiwala OBE, for example welcomes them, saying, “These new apprentice- ships are something that the Asian and Oriental catering industry has needed for some time. Finally, we have a recognised programme that teaches specific skills that are needed within our businesses.”

While the new apprenticeships may allow Asian and Oriental restaurants to reduce their reliance on non-EU workers, Mr Kent stresses that it is now up to businesses to make the most of them. “While the option is now there to train UK talent, skills cannot be learnt over- night,“ he comments. “Unless busi- nesses are proactive, they may still be vulnerable to future changes in immigration policy. I would urge any businesses that are interested in put- ting themselves in the best position to deal with these changes to think about recruiting apprentices now.” He also urged the government to con- sider the time needed for changes to take effect before placing restrictions on chefs entering the UK. “The industry has demonstrated that it is willing to change its approach, but these measures will take time to have an impact. Any new immigration restrictions that are imposed without an adequate lead-in time could prove disastrous for the sector,” he warns. For more information on the new Asian and Oriental chef apprentice- ships, contact Martin-Christian Kent at People 1st at

Curry restaurant fined after cooking up fake accolades

The Connoisseurs Indian Tandoori in Paddington boasted it had won an AA rosette for ‘enjoyable food that reflects a high level of culinary skills’ and had been recommended by The Times, The Independent and the Evening Standard.

But the claims of excellence, stretching back 16 years, were all a pack of lies and the restaurant was prosecuted after it was investigated by Westminster trad- ing standards officers.

One of the most outlandish claims was an entirely false recommendation on its menu from critic Fay Maschler, in which she described it as ‘the best Indian restaurant in London’.

Brian Connell of Westminster Council said: ‘This was a flagrant act of dis- honesty aimed at hoodwinking customers.’

Owner Ebad Hussein, 43, pleaded guilty at Westminster magistrates’

court to four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008.

He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.




Spice Business Magazine 10 December 2010

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