Market couple give us all food for thought

When it comes to our international reputation, we’re not really known for our customer service and excellent food.

With the exception of a few Heston Blumenthal types here and some swanky shops there, visitors to this country usually expect be met with sloppy, tasteless food in our eateries, and people who can hardly be bothered to serve you in our average shops. Well, you have to admit, this is sometimes the case. Not that that stops me spending all of my pocket money in clothes shops, of course.

However, there are some shining lights in this tunnel of customer service darkness, and happy times, some of those shining lights live in Islington! There was lots of really sad news in the Gazette last week, but one happy story to cling onto was that of Kuntal and Mohini Vyas, the husband and wife team who have won Islington Market Trader of the Year 2010.

Kuntal and Mohini run the Karuna food stall in Whitecross Street, which is famous for its super food stall collection and is also quite near the Ironmonger Row Baths. Visit both, but make sure you go for a swim before you eat, and not the other way round, otherwise you will sink or get wind.

The duo specialise in vegetarian Indian cuisine, setting up at 7am (ouch) each day in readiness for all of the hungry lunchtime workers who descend upon them for their fix of spicy goodness. According to Islington Council, who organised the competition, Kuntal and Mohini won the award because of their friendly service and variety of food.

I really like it when ordinary, hard-working people have their achievements recognised. The only thing missing here was a nice ritzy awards ceremony. I’m sure the Vyases would have liked to get dressed up in black tie and do some crying during their vegetarian food-based acceptance speech.

Kuntal left an office job to work on the stall. Now, all I know about working on a market stall has been learned from watching EastEnders. Apparently, you wear one of those money belts around your waist, look after other people’s stalls when they go off to have an impromptu domestic and listen to a lot of reggae. This all sounds like great fun. No wonder Kuntal kicked the 9-5 to the kerb!

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Well done, Mr and Mrs V!