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Adil Ray, Jabbar Khan, Rajan Singh (Star TV), Aktar Islam & Justin


Kansara, Chris Tarrant OBE and Justin


Enzo Ciappelli & Hamid Chowdhury (The Millennium Saagar), Indra


Ahmad Us Samad Choudhury & son (Rajpoot) and Justin


Lizzie Cundy, Rushanara Ali MP,


guest (The Spice Cube), Mark Davis (Kingfisher Beer) and Justin


Krishnan Guru Murthy, Jalf Ali &


The Rt Hon Eric Pickles, Heston Blumenthal, Enam Ali MBE and Justine Ali


Raj Kooner & guest, Rageh Omar, Bob Blackman MP, Manny Kooner & Justin


Then followed the awards themselves, with Justin Lee Collins proving an amus- ing master of ceremonies. The first winner was indeed a ‘first’, as Alun Sperring became the first chef of English descent to pick up an award. Alun founded and runs Brighton’s Chilli Pickle restaurant, which was named Most Innovative Restaurant in the Awards.


Moreover the last award was also a ‘first’, as a special award was presented to celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for the inspirational role he has played in helping to make Britain one of the best countries in the world in which to eat. Enam Ali, who co-presented the special award with Eric Pickles, said: “A vibrant hospitality industry is vital to this country, and Heston has done more than almost anyone else to inspire chefs of all nation-


alities to raise their game so that Britain is now not only one of the most cosmo- politan of countries in its range of cuisines, but also one of the best. It was only right that we should recognise his extraordinary contribution with an award on behalf of chefs from many different countries to whom he has become an icon.” Referring to Alun Sperring’s earlier success, Enam said he was pleased to honour an English chef who cooks highly creative Indian food with intense flavours and great attention to detail. “It shows how British curry is developing a style of its own. Although chicken tikka masala still remains our most popular dish, as well as being a favourite worldwide, it has now been supplemented by all manner of unique creations that have helped to elevate curry into a fine dining experience,” he added.


Accepting the award, Heston said in his speech: “I think the biggest thing of all though for me is that we now have British curry and that is unique in the world. It’s not a poor relation of what you get in India, it is it’s own identity and we are now influencing restaurants in India.” Restaurants that picked up an award as winners in their categories were: Ashoka Johnstone, Johnstone, Renfrewshire (Best in Scotland); The Spice Cube, Newcastle (Best in the North East); The Millennium Saagar, Douglas, Isle of Man (Best in the North West); Lasan, Birmingham (Best in the Midlands); Rajpoot, Bath (Best in the South West); Aziz, Oxford (Best in the South East); Bengal Dynasty, Shotton, Flintshire (Best in Wales); Brilliant, Southall (Best in London Suburbs); Bombay Brasserie, London SW7 (Best in London Central & City) and Mem


“Curry has a huge place in our national affections. The tikka


masala is more British than fish and chips and curry is big business as well as a great meal.’’


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