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News & Views Birmingham hosts lord mayor’s ‘cook-off’

The Soldiers’ Charity, which raised over £50,000 from the event.

Chefs from the award-winning Itihaas restaurant, The College of Food and the Army took part in the first ever Lord Mayor’s cook-off challenge, which was held in Victoria Square, Birmingham, this April. The event raised money for ABF The Soldiers Charity, which sup- ports soldiers and families returning from war. The competition was judged by local celebrities Rustie Lee and Roy Wood, as well as the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Len Gregory, himself. The competition was eventually won by a team of Ghurka chefs, who were delighted to receive a special trophy to mark their achievement. The big win- ners of the event, however, was ABF

Raj Rana, chief executive of Itihaas says, “I have been involved with the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry for 2 years now and felt that last year’s event did not raise the awareness that this charity vitally needed. By bringing the event to Victoria Square we were able to involve the general public and create a fantas- tic family ‘carnival’ environment.” Itihaas chefs prepared over 1000 por- tions of their signature Chicken Tari Wala along with a Vegetable Dry Fry dish. The food prepared by Itihaas was distributed free of charge and in turn diners were politely requested for a voluntary donation to the ABF char- ity. Itihaas took advantage of its con- tacts as an events company to bring in celebrity acts to perform live on the BRMB stage, offering a touch of Bollywood and traditional Bhangra to the proceedings. Performers on stage included Jeet from the BAFTA nominated

reality TV show, ‘The Family’ and female duo Sabrina & Bitti. Itihaas was also able to attract generous con- tributions from Cobra Beer, East End Foods, Bablake Wine and Church Hill Vintners - all of which helped raise the profile of the event, which was enjoyed by an estimated 3000 people. Last year, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity offered support to over 100 service and ex-service personnel and their fami- lies within the West Midlands alone and this figure is only set to increase over coming years.

Online reviewers don’t always play fair

Recently Spice Business Magazine has received a number of complaints from restaurants that some people are writ- ing unfairly bad reviews online. While they often cannot prove it, they say they feel the negative feedback is the work of rival restaurants who want to win over their regulars. Several claim the false reviews are coming from authors who have never visited the restaurants and they just write rubbish to damage a business’s reputation.

Dr Azizur Rahman says, “The inter- net is showing it can be both good and harmful to genuine restaurants doing their ultimate best to serve quality food accompanied by good service in a nice atmosphere for the comfort of diners. It is really unfair that some restaurants are under threat of losing business because of such underhand behaviour from a very few people.”

Spice Business Magazine

Writing a review online is a good thing and a benefit to restaurants. Sharing experience at a particular restau- rant is really helpful to other diners to get the information before they try it. However, only a genuine review should be put online and some restaurants are now arguing that diners should have to have valid ID/login details to be able to leave feedback.

Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs (GBR) Staffordshire region president Imam Uddin says, “We think it is very unfair when someone is working hard to create a good restaurant locally and then unidentified individuals just go on the internet and write damaging reviews in a bid to kill the business. Personal aggression or local compe- tition is activities that must not have room in our hospitality industry and I am asking internet providers not to


allow false reviews without scrutiniz- ing the information first.”

He points to one example where a reviewer said he had a dish called Chicken Bombay and found it ‘dis- gusting’ when in fact this dish was never even on the menu. The GBR is now looking to see whether Trading Standards can get involved in such cases, where it can clearly be shown that the review is false.

July/August 2011

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