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Scotland Chef Honoured at House of Lords

03/03/2023
ACF Chairman Yawar Khan

CHEF Jun Au of Edinburgh’s Pomelo was named top Scotland chef at this year’s Asian & Oriental Chef Awards. 

BBC news anchor Samantha Simmonds presented the awards, at a special at the House of Lords on 1st March, hosted by Lord Kamall.  The evening was also used as a launch platform for the Asian Catering Federation’s [ACF] full awards programme for 2023.

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Open to professional chefs across all Asian and Oriental cuisines, contestants were required to prepare a starter and main course at a cook off at Pillars Kitchen training facility at the University of West London, in Ealing on 27th February.  Marks were awarded for originality and creativity, technical skill, use of fresh local produce of known provenance, presentation and flavour.

Vikas Soni of the Mango Lounge in Windsor has scooped the top award. Chef Soni’s winning entry Three Ways of Seafood Jewels – a starter of oriental chili tiger prawns, battered fish with carom seeds, lobster cake with caper, rosemary and aubergine salsa, beets coolie and herbal froth.  For the main, Vikas served Tandoori Marinated Rabbit Loin, stuffed with rabbit kebab mince, red chili, coriander, baby spinach plus lababdar jus, served with rabbit keema matter parcel, grilled corns, shallots, baby carrots and herbal sauce.

A panel of judges was chaired by renowned restaurateur Rajesh Suri of the Michelin-ranked Grand Trunk Road in London.

Suri acknowledged the incredibly high standards at the cook-off and paid tribute to the technical skills, originality and enthusiasm of the new generation of chefs competing in this year’s event.

He commended on winning Chef Soni’s “perfect timings, enticing combinations of colours and textures, impressive skill set and bravery in selecting a set of notoriously challenging ingredients.”

The Runner’s-Up award went to Jiwan Lal of Babur, Forest Hill in London, with Vinod Singh, Head Chef of Pushkar restaurant in Birmingham, the second runner-up.  As well as Jun Au of Edinburgh’s Pomelo being named top Scotland chef, Saroj Thapaliya of Pananas Gurkha, Lewisham was awarded Best Nepalese Chef. Mohammed Najjib Ali of Maya Bar & Restaurant, Atherstone collected the regional award for the Midlands.

Organised by the Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represents the UK’s 35,000 Asian and Oriental restaurants and takeaways.

Commenting on the competition, ACF Chairman Yawar Khan said: “Despite standards rising exponentially among our up-and-coming chefs, even the best establishments are facing unprecedented challenges on the viability of their business, with rising energy, food and wage costs and cash-strapped customers.  He called on the government to slash the 20 percent VAT rate on the hospitality sector, to stem the growing number of business closures.

The event was also used to launch the Asian Restaurant Awards which will take place in Manchester on 19th June and Edinburgh on 18th September and the Asian Curry Awards in London’s Grosvenor House on 19th November.

The awards are sponsored by Just Eat, Booker Wholesale. TYL by NatWest, Cobra Beer and Work Cloud Permit.

Spice loving members of the public can nominate their favourite restaurants at www.asianrestaurantawards.org

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