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FEATURE SPICE BUSINES S


HOME GROWN SOLUTION TO CURRY CRISIS


WHILE many in the industry remain firmly opposed to the Government’s immigration policies, which means that they can no longer bring in chefs from the sub-continent unless it pays them almost £30,000 each, there are some restaurant owners who take a different view. Rajesh Suri, chief executive of The Tamarind Collection, is one of those who argues the new rules represent a necessary wake-up call for curry entrepreneurs and the time is


right to start employing young British workers rather than relying on importing cheaper chefs from Asia. “Considering the unemployment we have in this country, we have to look after our own young people as our first priority,” he says.”It’s wrong to say only Indians can cook Indian food, or only Chinese people can cook Chinese dishes.” Backing his words with deeds, Mr Suri has put 12 British apprentices through a training


scheme and he is now trying to convince the rest of the industry to follow this approach. Last year, he helped establish the charity, Asian Restaurant Skill Board, which under the “Mastara Chef” banner is focusing on raising funds for student scholarships for young chefs. So far, it has paid for 50 students to gain NVQs. However, Mr Suri has admitted the approach is neither a quick nor easy solution to an acute shortage of trained chefs. Tamarind is one of a number


of restaurant groups backing the Asian Restaurant Skill Board project. Another is the Cinnamon Club whose Cinnamon Kitchen restaurant in the heart of London’s Square Mile held a special fund raiser on September 9th this year. Cinnamon Kitchen says it is working directly with the government and The University of West London to match the growing demand for skills and talent with the wishes of young people to find a credible and exciting career path. Its goal for this fundraiser was to raise enough money to put one student through a college course and into its apprenticeship programme. Guests were treated to a meal prepared by young apprentices Daniel Walsh and Matthew Forrester under the guidance of executive chef Vivek Singh and Abdul Yaseen.


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