|21st February 2007
(scroll down for update of 12th March 2007)
We've reported on the International Indian Chef of the Year Competition a number of times before so you may know the format of the competition by now. If not, it goes like this. The competition is free to enter. Anyone can enter – you don't need to be a chef and you don't even need to be Indian. To make the shortlist of finalists your menu of 4 dishes must have impressed the judges so much that they preferred yours over the 5,000 odd other entries.
But if you are talented and lucky enough to be awarded a place in the final then your worries are only just beginning. Although the organisers will pay all your expenses to the cook-off in Edinburgh, you will then have to make the 4 dishes of your menu from scratch in just 2 ½ hours in front of a panel of enthusiastic and knowledgeable judges. Believe me, that's a tough call especially as your meal has to taste and look fantastic.
This year, 6 finalist will be testing their nerve, skill and stamina at Edinburgh's Telford College on 12th March 2007. The finalists were announced on 21st February at a reception in the House of Commons hosted by the leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond MP. The Curry House was there to discover the names of the finalists. They are :
Dharma Maharjan of Edinburgh
Shakil Ahmed of Glasgow
Manoj Kunar of Livingston
Iwan Sasaki of Glasgow
Joynul Abedin of Rushden, Northants.
Tejpal Singh of Glasgow
Alex Salmond is himself one of the judges but he admitted that his political commitments meant that, sadly, he could not always attend the judging and taste the wonderful dishes on offer. He went on to express how delighted he was to see such a strong Scottish contingent in the final and explain how much South Asian immigrants have enriched Scottish culture.
One such immigrant was a young boy of 10 called Tommy Miah. But that was back in 1969 and Tommy is now a successful businessman based in Edinburgh. I've known Tommy Miah for some 3 years and in that time I have never ceased to be impressed by his energy and entrepreneurial flair. Not only does he own a prestigious hotel and restaurant in Edinburgh but he is currently developing another hotel in London. As if that weren't enough he has opened a fusion restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh and founded an Institute of Hospitality Management to train young Bangladeshis in the skills of the trade. Oh, and he has his own cookery programme on Bangladeshi TV !
Most importantly though, as far as Alex Salmond's announcement at the House of Commons is concerned, Tommy is also the founder of this competition which began in 1991. The competition is intended to promote innovation and quality in Indian cuisine and it certainly seems to have achieved its purpose. A former winner from 2000, Shamim Syed, was on hand at the reception to provide the refreshments. Shamim, from the Durbar restaurant in London's Bayswater, provided us with some tasty delicacies which included minty chicken tikka in a chapati wrap and spicy Bangladeshi fishcakes and which displayed his credentials as a former winner.
The climax of the competition is the announcement of the winner which takes place at Edinburgh's Curry Ball. The Ball itself is a vital part of the competition because the substantial funds raised go to support the Sreepur Village Orphanage in Dhaka.
So we look forward eagerly to the competition and the announcement of this year's winner. Shamim Syed proudly displays his winner's status on his restaurant's menu; another enterprising chef will soon be able to do the same.
The winner of the International Indian Chef of the Year Competition has been announced by the chairman of the judging panel, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.
The 1000 prize went to P.C.Thakur of the Nine Cellars restaurant in Edinburgh. Amazingly, P.C.Thakur wasn't even in the list of finalists until one dropped out. He was originally expecting to be in India during the competition but managed to get back to Edinburgh just in time to be first reserve.
Second place was awarded to Joynul Abedin of Rushden, Northamptonshire. Manoj Kumar, from Livingston, won the Lady Fraser prize of 250 for the best vegetarian dish.
related links :
International Indian Chef of the Year Competition
Durbar Restaurant, Bayswater, London W2