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The Spice City Journal | December 12, 2017

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Capital’s restaurants need hygiene makeover

May 18, 2015 | User

TWO-HUNDRED and seventeen premises, including bars, cafes, food stores and restaurants in London have been warned to clean up their act after receiving ‘zero’ rating for food hygiene.

London food businesses, like everywhere else in the UK, are monitored closely by the Food Standards Agency to maintain or improve hygiene standards. This protects the consumer from potential food poisoning or other illness passed on through bad hygiene. It can also benefit the local economy through tourism; for instance, if a town or city has a strong reputation for food services and products then it may attract more visitors.

Consumer magazine Which? found six London boroughs scored the lowest in food hygiene (as of February 2015), including Lewisham, Ealing, Harrow, Camden and Brent.

Enfield was the worst, reports DESIblitz, with only 54.1 per cent rate of compliance for 2,468 premises.

For the full list of food businesses in London rated ‘zero’ visit: www.desiblitz.com/content/217-london-restaurants-rated-zero-hygiene.

Lasan Group launches £1m flagship restaurant

May 18, 2015 | User

After thirteen years Lasan has transformed from a back street restaurant in the City of Birmingham into a multi-million pound business and growing.

Starting with just £11,000 and a lack of business acumen but plenty of enthusiasm, Lasan boss Jabbar Khan says it was his naiveté and absence of knowledge starting out that probably helped his success.

Establishing Lasan on a quiet street in the Jewellery Quarter with little through traffic has taken years of effort, but Khan credits the struggles not the successes for helping to pave the way to their current venture – the £1million Nosh and Quaff, in Colmore Row.

The group were able to invest in the new site after

Lasan: F-Word finalists 2010

the eventual success of Lasan restaurant – helped in no small part by being named Gordon Ramsey’s ‘Best Local Restaurant’ on his television series The F Word. The group has gone on to hit £8million turnover.

With renowned chef Aktar Islam at the helm, generating further publicity through appearances on the BBC’s Great British Menu, Lasan has become firmly established as a top food destination.

Nosh and Quaff will mark another step forward for the group, which also owns Raja Monkey, in Hall Green, and Fiesta del Asado, in Edgbaston.

They expect to take on between 40 and 60 new members of staff, bringing the group’s total workforce to more than 100.

Mr Khan said the inspiration to open an Indian restaurant was to get away from the sort of cuisine associated with the subcontinent but not really served there.

He explained: “A lot of what I have learned is what not to do. I have learned from customers who come in and see 150 dishes on a menu who say ‘I have been to India and never seen any of these’. So I thought I will never serve any food I don’t enjoy eating myself. How else can you expect customers to enjoy it?” Birmingham Post

Despite its success, Mr Khan and the group have opted not to try and repeat the Lasan model in other towns and cities, arguing that maintaining a consistent standard across several outlets would be hard. Instead they have focused on serving food that “excites” them.

“Given the shortage of Indian chefs, we decided there was no reason we should just do Indian food.

“We decided just to serve things that excite us”, Khan told Birmingham Post.

Khan and Islam have focused on a variety of concepts in their home city. The first was Fiesta Del Asado, Birmingham’s first Argentine Asado restaurant, based in Hagley Road.

Nosh and Quaff at more than £1million marks their largest investment to date and will be an ambitious venue spread across four floors with the restaurant at ground level, a bar-restaurant above and the chefs working their culinary wizardry at the top.

 3-4 Dakota Buildings, James Street, St Paul’s Square Birmingham, B3 1SD. Tel: 0121 212 3664. www.lasangroup.com

Source: Birmingham Post

FOOD ALLERGIES: A MATTER OF LIFE & DEATH

January 23, 2015 | User

Community-Chef & Food Safety Trainer Afruj Choudhury

Last week I read the tragic news of an 18 -year-old teenager named Shahida Shahid who collapsed after dinner on Friday night. Shahida, a Manchester student, died from a suspected allergic reaction after eating at a popular Manchester restaurant.

I am deeply saddened and shocked after reading this story especially as I recently wrote an article about the new food allergen laws introduced in December 2014; my aim was to create awareness and promote the importance of food allergen knowledge and training in the food, curry and hospitality industry.

Shahida’s death should serve as a wakeup call and a final warning about the need for everyone involved in the food service and catering businesses to train and learn underpinning knowledge about food allergies and dietary requirements so they are able to properly assist consumers who may be vulnerable to life-threatening allergic reaction and prevent possible fatality.

Community-Chef & Food Safety Trainer Afruj Choudhury

Food allergens can be life threatening and the only way people can manage a food allergy is to avoid the foods that make them ill. An oversight on your part – such as serving someone a food they are allergic to – can damage the reputation of your business as well as cause serious harm to your customer. Food allergens cannot be removed by cooking. That is why it’s essential to practice good kitchen hygiene, as well as careful separation, storage and labelling of ingredients when preparing food. From 13 December 2014, all food businesses have to provide information about the allergenic ingredients used in food sold or provided by them.

The information can be supplied on the menu, on chalk boards, tickets or provided verbally by an appropriate member of staff, as well as other formats made available to the consumer. It must be clear cut, not hidden away, easily visible and legible.

If you sell a food product which contains or uses an ingredient from any one of the 14 allergenic substances then it needs to be declared. This means that you need to check all your recipes/foods for sale to assess whether they contain any of these allergens. A list or matrix of allergens should be compiled for each recipe so that staff can easily inform customers about the presence of these allergens in the foods for sale. Staff need to be given proper allergen training so that they can handle food allergy queries from customers with confidence.

Even large companies who already have allergen policies in place are making mistakes with mixed information, miss-labelling and not communicating properly to the customer. It may seem insignificant to some, but to a food allergy sufferer it really can mean the difference between life and death.

As a Community-Chef & Food Safety Trainer my aim is to highlight the changes in food related laws and regulations to help the hospitality industry to become ‘Food Allergy Aware’ and avoid prosecutions. I use the media and pop up workshops to demonstrate best practice and outline risks associated with food allergens, food hygiene and healthy cooking.

For the best part of 50 years, the British curry industry focused on how to best serve customers who, by all accounts, had little or no obstacles when it came to enjoying eating out. While much has been done to educate kitchen staff on safe food-handling practices, continued instruction in the food allergen area could prevent fatal consequences as well as a bad reputation for your business.

There is a big difference between food items to which people are intolerant, such as gluten, and items that result in an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions are often more severe; this is why food allergy training is an important component of any food service operation.

We have talked a lot about the importance of food safety training, and the news of Shahida’s death, despite being in its early stages of investigation, is a ‘timely reminder’ to the food industry about the significance of providing information to customers with food allergies.

Curry Oscars – 10 years of award winning curry and best of 2014

December 5, 2014 | User

A lavish and festive celebration honoured this year’s stars of the curry industry as the 10th British Curry Awards announced the winners of the UK’s finest restaurants in spectacular style.

Stars of stage and screen gathered at a twinkling winter wonderland at the annual event in the Battersea Evolution in London, to see the industry’s finest chefs rewarded for their hard work in continuing to innovate and perfect the nation’s favourite dish.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The British curry industry really is one of Britain’s greatest success stories.”

Home Secretary Theresa May was this year’s guest of honour and said: “It’s not hard to see why the Prime Minister and others have called these the ‘Curry Oscars’. The British curry industry really is one of Britain’s greatest success stories. Through hard work and innovation, you’ve built a vibrant industry, which generates wealth, promotes growth and employs tens of thousands of people.”

In a special video message played at the event, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “These awards are a great night for this country. Curry is one of our country’s greatest achievements and one of our most exciting exports too.”

Hosted by TV’s Kate Silverton and Hardeep Singh Kohli, the awards helped showcase Britain’s finest culinary talent.

This year, a phenomenal 206,378 public votes were received, with 2,641 restaurants being nominated. More than 1,600 guests packed into the lavish venue to celebrate the stars of the industry and crown this year’s champions.

British Curry Awards 2014 winners:

Best Spice Restaurant in London Central & City: The Cinnamon Club, Westminster

Best Spice Restaurant in London Outer & Suburbs: Shampan Welling, Kent

Best Spice Restaurant in South East: Maliks Restaurant, Maidenhead, Berkshire

Best Spice Restaurant in South West: Myristica, Bristol

Best Spice Restaurant in North East: Aagrah Midpoint, Thornbury, West Yorkshire

Best Spice Restaurant in North West: Blue Tiffin, Oldham

Best Spice Restaurant in Midlands: Mem Saab, Nottingham

Best Spice Restaurant in Wales: Rasoi Indian Kitchen, Swansea

Best Spice Restaurant in Scotland: Light of Bengal, Aberdeen

Best Casual Dining: Dishoom Covent Garden

Newcomer of the Year: Five Rivers A La Carte, Walsall

Best Delivery Restaurant/ Takeaway by Justeat.com: The Chilli Pickle, Brighton

This year’s Special Recognition Award was presented to one of the founding fathers of the British curry industry, Shams Uddin Khan of Maharani restaurant in Clapham.

The British Curry Awards was established by British entrepreneur and restaurateur Enam Ali MBE in 2005. He said, “These awards have changed the public’s perception of British curry and we are getting the recognition for providing truly world class cuisine.”