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before going for another job. There is no commitment, as many European staff do not see working in the curry restaurant sector as a career. The Hospitality Guild which has set up the so-called Curry Colleges hasn’t been able to help the situation. So far it has failed to persuade British youngsters to choose to become curry chefs and many believe the exercise has not been beneficial to the sector at the cost of a lot of taxpayers’ money. The need for chefs is right now. These centres may create chefs in 3-4 years, restaurateurs believe, but in the meantime the chef shortage crisis remains. The

key point is that

the skills needed for a curry chef are complex and take a lot of time to produce. Dipna Anand, owner of the

Brilliant Restaurant in Southall, and British Curry Awards 2012 Personality of the Year, says, “It takes time to train a chef to become an expert in Indian cuisine and chefs with the skills we require are tough to find today. As restaurateurs, we are unable to get the chefs from aboard with the tight immigration clamp down and thus must educate and skill

46 MAY/JUNE 2013 ISSUE 48

existing individuals that we have access to in this country. This is somewhat challenging and will take considerable time. The UK market demands high quality cooking by experienced chefs and we need to find solutions as soon as possible.” Local job centres have also not been particularly helpful in coping with this problem. As Mahtab Miah from Vujon Restaurant, award winning restaurant in Newcastle says, “You hardly get any response from your adverts. Chef jobs still remain unfilled as despite unemployment few choose to become a chef.” Training needs are a

significant issue. With all the necessary records and paperwork that has to be done in the kitchen on a daily basis to ensure the restaurant is working towards the HACCP standards, additional knowledge amongst the kitchen personnel is required. However with more temporary staff or part timers filling positions in restaurants or takeaways, many don’t have the right mind-set to really absorb the need to stick by certain principles, thereby jeopardising the business in question. Trainers visit restaurants and educate the kitchen staff only for them to leave shortly afterwards. So the owner has to invest again in training to ensure the new recruits have their hygiene certificates. This is an expensive process, especially for small businesses, which face the added pressure of keeping a maximum hygiene rating through their local borough

‘scores on the door’ system. Spice Business campaigned

against the Points Based System (PBS) in the UK when it was introduced by the Labour Government, pointing out that it was not workable for the industry. The Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs: trade association serving the industry since 1994, also warned the Labour Government about the PBS and now the present Government confirms its claims were correct. However the current Government is also on the wrong path and needs to look again at its immigration rules as they relate to the catering and hospitality sector. If it relaxes the system for a few years until the UK has managed to produce more home grown chefs for the ethnic restaurant sector, it will surely be a big help to the industry and encourage it to start growing again. Immigration raids have

also caused considerable harm to the curry industry and many restaurateurs who have suffered at the hands of the UK Borders Agency feel victimised. Raids often take place when restaurants are full of customers and appear designed to create the maximum adverse impact on the business. The practice of ‘naming and shaming’ in local papers and online news clearly undermines all the hard work over many years to build up a business with a good reputation. Hans Ram, CEO of the

Goldstar Chefs - Recruitment Agency and Sponsor Licensing Specialists for Britain’s Curry

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