On Thursday 1st July, UK’s only pressure group for the nation’s burgeoning curry industry, Bangladesh Caterers’ Association (BCA), announced a series of year-long celebratory events to mark 50 glorious years since BCA’s inception and the 200th year since the first ever curry restaurant opened its doors to the UK public.
The 50th anniversary events will provide the perfect opportunity for the industry organisation to celebrate its heritage, highlighting over five decades of unfettered commitment, extensive government lobbying and phenomenal achievement in creating and protecting what has gone on to become the nation’s favourite dish. At the same time, the anniversary celebration at this year’s award ceremony will serve to highlight the challenges the curry industry and its dependent communities currently face, as they collectively look forward to the next 50 years of business in UK and servicing the majority of UK diners.
Events include a nationwide roadshow highlighting the stronghold of the UK curry industry as well as the annual BCA Awards 2010, a prestigious event which aims to uncover the most outstanding Asian restaurants at this year’s awards ceremony. Taking place in October 2010, nominations for the BCA Awards formally opened at an exclusive luncheon hosted by Bengal Clipper, London SE1.
Speaking at the event, Bajloor Rashid, President of BCA, said, “Our unique cuisine offers opportunities for enterprise and ownership. We established the curry industry, with hundreds of thousands of jobs created and billions added to the Treasury. Now it is the government’s responsibility to preserve it.”
Other esteemed guest speakers and influential supporters attending the event included HE Mr. Allama Siddiki, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Ms Rushanara Ali, the first ever Bangladeshi MP, Ms Ann Main MP, Chair of the Conservative & All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh, Keith Best MP and Lord Bilimoria.
HE Mr. Allama Siddiki: “We were once defeated by the East India Company in 1757, but we’ve now taken sweet revenge, occupying a position in the heart of British gastronomy. Bangladesh may be poor in terms of material development but it is hugely rich in culture. Curry represents that richness of Bangladesh.”
Ms Rushanara Ali: “We’re all making history together. As the first British Bangladeshi MP, I hope this is the beginning of our presence in public life. My father came to Britain in the 60’s during the labour shortage. He worked in Claridges, as well as in restaurants. The British Bangadeshi catering industry is the backbone of our community and the springboard of success for future generations.”
In addressing the guests, Ms Ann Main MP, Chair of the Conservative & All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh, said, “It doesn’t matter which political divide we are on, we all have your interests at heart. Congratulations to all of you. We want to know your problems so we can solve them.”
Keith Best MP: “The UK’s curry industry has got to the heart of the British people and public, making curry the nation’s favourite dish. You are Britain. You are success, but success comes with trouble; we need to pay tribute to you all for the struggle to get to where you are today. This is a part of British heritage that we must preserve.”
Lord Bilimoria: “2010 is a very special year for three reasons: the 200th anniversary of curry in this country; the 20th anniversary of Cobra Beer in this country; and of course the 50th anniversary of BCA. If you can just imagine what this industry has achieved, going into every town, village and city as pioneer entrepreneurs, and has also put back. This immigration community has enriched the country.”
The work of BCA is more significant than ever before at the current time, in light of Home Secretary Theresa May’s announcement this week that immigration from non-EU countries will be capped. This will severely impact UK’s curry industry which relies on chefs and skilled workers from Bangladesh and India. Facing the toughest adversity, the BCA and its members work tirelessly together to preserve the curry industry’s inner strength and resources and continue to provide the UK’s millions of visitors and neighbouring residents with an excellent experience both inside the restaurants and the surrounding communities.
The BCA represents 12,000 British-Bangladeshi restaurants across the UK and was established in 1960 to represent the Catering Industry run by the ethnic Bangladeshis. At present, the industry employs more than 100,000 people, mostly Bangladeshi in origin, with an estimated yearly turnover of £4 billion.