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Chef shortage heats up UK curry crisis

Monday, June 03, 2013 - 02:12

June 3 - A shortage of skilled Indian and Bangladeshi chefs, caused by changes to the UK government's immigration policy, is causing a mild curry crisis for Britain's Indian restaurants. Hayley Platt finds out what one London-based restaurant is doing to about it.

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It's one of Britain's best loved dishes. Now the Indian curry is being made not only by traditional Asian chefs but English ones too. Eighteen year-old Floyd Price is from North London. He's spent the past two years as an apprentice at the Tamarind group of Indian restaurants. SOUNDBITE: Floyd Price, qualified Indian chef, saying (English): "When I was growing up I never thought I would be an Indian chef. I wanted to do cookery when I was younger but I thought I would be maybe a pastry chef." Changes to Britain's immigration rules over the last few years have made it too expensive for many restaurants to employ Indian and Bangladeshi chefs - sparking a mild curry crisis. Rajesh Suri is Chief Executive of the Tamarind Group of Indian Restaurants. SOUNDBITE: Rajesh Suri, CEO, Tamarind Restaurant Collection, saying (English): "You can still get the chefs but there's a price to pay. The minimum salary set by the government is in the region of £28-30 thousand pounds for a trained chef. Our kitchen has an average of 12-14 chefs, so to have 10-12 people on that salary is not a viable business for a lot of people." That's led restaurant chain like Tamarind to think outside the box, setting up their own training program. SOUNDBITE: Rajesh Suri, CEO, Tamarind Restaurant Collection, saying (English): "I think initially people always believed that Indians can only cook Indian food and Chinese can only cook Chinese food, that's totally wrong, it's a myth. You will have different people from such a melting pot in the UK, you're going to have all sorts of people coming in and learning." Each year they recruit 4-6 apprentices like Floyd. And they want to encourage other restaurants and organisations to do the same. SOUNDBITE: Rajesh Suri, CEO, Tamarind Restaurant Collection, saying (English): "We are telling people that you love eating this food so much why don't you come and cook it." An estimated 2.5 million customers eat in one of Britain's 10,000 Indian restaurants every week. It's an industry reportedly worth around £3.6 billion. And Suri wants to ensure the exotic treat which first appeared in England in the 19th century but is now very much part of everyday British cuisine, continues to be enjoyed by future generations to come.

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Chef shortage heats up UK curry crisis

Monday, June 03, 2013 - 02:12