'Curry college needed in Britain'
Squeezed by tighter immigration rules, caterers and restaurants serving Indian food in Britain say they need a specialised curry college to save an industry facing "catastrophe".education Updated: Mar 16, 2009 21:06 IST
Squeezed by tighter immigration rules, caterers and restaurants serving Indian food in Britain say they need a specialised 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 posses formal qualification besides a good knowledge of English.
Restaurants found flouting rules face stiff fines and the immigration department has raided a series of eating places in Britain in recent months.
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 has the backing of a Conservative Party MP, Anne Main, who told the paper: "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."