Curry may run out due to foreign chef shortage

PUBLISHED: 18:25 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:16 22 July 2010

WORRIED: Imran Ahmed

WORRIED: Imran Ahmed

A NIGHTMARISH scenario almost too terrible to contemplate may befall Islington unless urgent action is taken …the curry may run out.

A NIGHTMARISH scenario almost too terrible to contemplate may befall Islington unless urgent action is taken ...the curry may run out.

It is not the thought of floods, volcanoes or an invasion of locusts causing disquiet in the borough. Rather it is the prospect of no more tikka masala sending chillis down the spine of hungry residents.

The curry crisis has resulted from a tightening of immigration rules which made it much harder for foreign chefs to get visas to work in the borough's Indian restaurants.

It means Islington curry houses are finding it harder and harder to recruit experienced chefs. Many Asian people born in Britain spurn the restaurant trade because of low wages.

Imran Ahmed, of Parveen Tandoori, in Theberton Street, Islington, said: "It is difficult because the rules make it hard to bring in chefs from Bangladesh. The shortage of experienced chefs is very bad. English people love Indian food and want to eat it all the time. But nobody will be able to supply it if these rules don't change."

His fears were echoed by Subal Miah, of Bengal Spice restaurant, in Holloway Road, Archway. He said: "The government laws are a problem - a lot of people who used to be able to work now can't.

"Everybody wants to eat in Indian restaurants because English people love the food. But if you can't find chefs you will have to close. My friends [also in the restaurant business] are all saying the same thing."

If you prefer your noodles to your naan, you have just as much to fear - the crisis is afflicting Chinese restaurants just as badly.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "We know many people will be anxious about the rules because they are becoming tougher. We've asked the Migration Advisory Committee to listen to concerns and advise ministers on the way forward. Immigration minister Liam Byrne has specifically asked the chairman of the committee to speak to employers in the restaurant industry to ensure their concerns are heard.

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