Mastara Chef
London's leading Indian restaurants drum up support for skills programme.

Chefs and owners of London's most celebrated Indian restaurants have teamed up to support a government initiative to boost jobs and skills opportunities in their sector through speciality courses and apprenticeships. A series of fundraising lunches and dinners with ministers participating are planned for 2013 to help fund scholarships for students training to be 'elite' chefs.

The Asian Restaurants Skills Board was formed at the request of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to help raise the profile and prestige of high-end Asian cuisine so that people view the Asian cuisine sector as offering an attractive and rewarding career. The Board will work with students at the new Centres of Excellence in Asian and Oriental cuisine, and was involved in launching the Government backed scholarship fund at one of the Centres of Excellence - the University of West London - last year. Lord Noon has sponsored the first scholarship.

The project was launched in the light of industry concerns that the halt in recruiting chefs from the sub Continent could potentially damage business. The plan is that the courses, being held in the Centres of Excellence, dubbed "curry colleges", will drive new and fresh talent to carry on building a thriving part of the hospitality sector and to broaden its appeal wider than the Asian community.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "There was a time when, for most people, Asian cuisine meant a post-pub Friday-night curry. But not anymore. Our high-end Asian restaurants have been instrumental in changing the perception of Indian and Asian cuisine and many have reached for and been awarded Michelin stars, proving the nation's favourite food is just as sophisticated as any other.

"This is an industry worth over £3 billion to the economy and we are fully committed to supporting British talent, all the way through from our favourite local curry houses and takeaways right up to our world-leading restaurants. We want to ensure employees have the right skills and that Britain remains one of the best places in the world for our chefs and managers to train."

Iqbal Wahhab, chair of the Skills Board, said: "It's fantastic to see so many of our leading Indian restaurants giving up time and money to support this vital initiative to provide the next generation of talent for the sector. Whether it's through hosting fundraising events or by providing work placements and apprenticeships, our members are actively investing in new talent from young Londoners who may never have previously considered entering the sector, but with the right coaching and opportunities could become the next generation of masala millionaires and Michelinaires."

Restaurant events for 2013 are listed below.

  • Tamarind, lunch on Sunday 24th February
  • Cinnamon Club, lunch on Sunday17th March
  • Chakra, lunch on Sunday 28th April
  • Café Spice Namaste, lunch on Sunday 19th May
  • La Porte des Indes, wine and canapé evening on Tuesday 4th June
  • Chor Bizarre, lunch on Tuesday 14th July
  • Cinnamon Kitchen, lunch on 9th September
  • The Painted Heron, dinner on Monday 21st October

Bookings for these events can be made online at:

Note to editors: the Asian Restaurant Skills Board members are: Tamarind, The Cinnamon Club, Cafe Spice Namaste, Chakra, Benares, Quilon, Noon Products, The Bombay Brasserie, Moolis, Chor Bizarre, The Painted Heron, La Porte Des Indes and Dishoom.

For further information, please contact Iqbal Wahhab via or 0203 301 4889


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