The heat was turned up in the kitchen of the International Food Academy as budding young chefs battled it out to win a place in the regional finals of the National Junior Curry Chef Competition 2011/12, in the heart of Bradford – the Curry Capital of England.
This follows the announcement that restaurateurs throughout the country are facing an unprecedented ‘Curry Crisis’ and are struggling to find skilled chefs due to a tightening of immigration laws.
Commenting on the competition that encourages young cooks to become the curry chefs of the future, Event Organiser and Head Chef, Colin Burt said: “The Junior Curry Chef Competition has been prompted by the ‘Curry Crisis’ and the need to address the skills shortage in the Asian restaurants. We’re keen to promote and encourage budding young chefs, both female and male to develop the skills needed to fill the gap.”
The regional semi final of the competition took place over two days to accommodate the large number of entries Bradford College received from young hopefuls, hoping to win a place in the regional finals and be crowned Junior Curry Chef 2011/12.
Talented young chefs pull out all the stops to impress critically acclaimed judges Kaushy Patel, (Founder and Executive Chef of Prashad Restaurant), Mumtaz Khan, (Owner of Mumtaz Restaurants and Food Industries) and Charalene Lee, (General Manager of Chino Thai restaurants) with their preparation, cooking and presentation of a curry dish of their choice.
Torn between an array of extraordinarily top-class dishes from the budding young finalists, the panel of award winning judges decision to select winners from each category (18 years and under) and (16 years and under) was difficult in the tough cooking competition.
Dishes included: CA RI GA a Vietnamese curry cooked in a pot and topped with puff pastry, mouth watering Chicken Karhahi and fragrant Thai green curry chicken with bamboo shoots and grilled king prawns – to name but a few.
Ross Foods and Wharfe Valley Farms were proud sponsors of the culinary curry event, which saw young hopefuls turn up the heat in the kitchen to impress the judges.
Internationally renowned business tycoon Mr Mumtaz Khan has built his award winning chain of restaurants on a reputation of culinary excellence. Mr Khan is also an international food manufacturer, supplying Asian food products to over 39 countries worldwide. Commenting on the calibre of entries, Mr Mumtaz Khan said: “It’s wonderful to see all these youngsters taking an interest in food. I’m very impressed with the standard of entries from these exciting new chefs coming into the industry. They’ve all chosen very hard dishes to make, which demonstrates the level of skill, confidence and commitment these innovative young chefs possess.”
Leading restaurateur, Prashad’s Bobby Patel speaking on behalf of Kaushy Patel said: “I think it’s exceptional to see talent at such a young age. You can see the passion in the individuals. They’re very focused…they’re not fazed by any of the judges walking around and looking at them with clipboards. It’s almost like they’re in their own zone and are ready to create magic!”
Prashad reached the final of Gordon Ramsay’s hit Channel 4 TV series ‘Ramsay's Best Restaurant’, beating off stiff competition from more than 12,000 eateries nationwide to win the hearts and minds of the nation with their infectious enthusiasm for vegetarian cuisine. Gordon described the food at Prashad as ‘Extraordinary’ and ‘The best vegetarian cuisine he had ever had’.
Successful business entrepreneur Charalene Lee has a string of restaurants and is a leading authority on exceptional oriental cuisine. Speaking at the event, Charalene said: “It’s totally amazing that we’ve got such a lot of talent in such young people. They’re incredibly enthusiastic and into their food and cooking. Children as young as 12 and 13 have entered into this competition and can actually make a curry from scratch, as opposed to reaching for something out of the fridge freezer and putting it in the microwave.”
Jino Calioe Daniel from Bradford College was thrilled to secure a place in the regional finals of the prestigious competition from the 18 Years and Under Category, impressing judges with his mouth watering dish.
Whilst up and coming British talent Kyle Richardson (St Aidans Academy), Oliver Robinson (Prince Henrys Grammar School), Jacob Carson (Queensbury School) and Harry Maurice (Queensbury School) secured their places in the regional finals for the 16 Years and Under Category.
Colin Burt, Head Chef at the International Food Academy reflecting on the success of the competition which has the backing of award winning restaurants, Prashad, Mumtaz, Akbars, Nawaab and Aagrah said: “Everyone including the prestigious judges were blown away by the standard of food that was being prepared by these young budding chefs. Look out for these bright young stars of the future!”
Speaking about how it felt to win a place in the regional finals of the prestigious competition, 13 years old Jacob Carson smiled and said: “I’m ecstatic… it’s wonderful to have got through to the next stage of the competition!”
12 year old Harry Maurice added: “It feels good to have won and got through to the next round - and to have had such good feedback from the judges! I practiced my dish the day before, to make sure I got it right for the competition!
Head of the International Food Academy, Graham Fleming backed the initiative and concluded: “Working with top Asian restaurants, we’re delighted to discover the young inspiring cooks of the future, whilst also plugging the gap in the current staffing crisis.”