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Coming soon, a curry college in UK

Posted on March 17, 2009
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16 Mar 2009, 0317 hrs IST, IANS

LONDON: Squeezed by tighter immigration rules, caterers and restaurants serving Indian food in Britain say they need a specialized curry college to save an industry facing “catastrophe”.

A London School of Curry is being proposed by leaders of a 3.5 billion-pound industry who say a new points-based immigration system is making it hard to source qualified chefs who can cook an Indian meal.

Under the points-based system, chefs imported from South Asia not only have to know their cooking skills but also be high earners and possess formal qualification besides a good knowledge of English. Restaurants found flouting rules face stiff fines and immigration department has raided many eating places in Britain recently.

Sheikh Aklaq Ahmed of the Bangladesh Caterers’ Association, told The Observer newspaper 30,000 extra staff were needed to fill shortages. “Our chefs have cooking skills — just not recognisable, portable qualifications,” he said.

“If we are not allowed to bring people from outside, then what we are saying is please help us train people locally,” he added. The industry says government funding is essential to set up the college, which would offer diplomas in curry-making to around 1,200 students annually. The plan is backed by Conservative Party MP, Anne Main, who said: “They see it as the saving of the industry. It’s no good sending unemployed people to a top curry restaurant and expecting them to be able to understand spices and blending and cooking.”

Enam Ali, who runs the Michelin-listed Le Raj restaurant in Epsom, warned: “Indian restaurants will disappear just as pubs are doing unless the government works with us.”

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