1,000 guests, including government policymakers, key dignitaries from the UK and mainland Europe, such as Jonathan Shaw, Keith Simpson and Sadik Khan, and a host of curry and restaurant aficionados came together to honour the achievements of the UK’s flourishing Bangladeshi restaurant industry and to acknowledge the challenges they are facing, at the second annual awards ceremony to be hosted by Bangladesh Caterers’ Association (BCA) UK Ltd – the umbrella organisation representing approximately 12,000 British-Bangladeshi restaurateurs in the UK.
The BCA Annual Dinner 2007 marked the 47th anniversary of the association’s establishment and is revered as the most prestigious awards ceremony of its kind in the UK, specifically created to reward the very best of Bangladeshi restaurants that play a significant role in contributing to the nation’s economy and wealth. At present, the Bangladeshi restaurant industry employs more than 90,000 people, with an estimated yearly turnover of £3.5 billion and the BCA are at the forefront of representing and organising various activities to promote Bangladeshi cuisine in the UK and Europe.
In his engaging speech at the event, Rt Hon Hillary Benn MP addressed the worrying issue that, despite the fact that the Bangladeshi restaurant industry has become synonymous with London’s burgeoning Brick Lane area and has contributed significantly to generating tourism and income in the area, many of the longstanding curry houses on Brick Lane are being forced to close due to soaring increases in rent and rates, as the area has seen an influx of city and media professionals. He said, “I have been listening to what has been said this evening, and I think the government needs to take notice about the legislative concerns of the BCA.”
Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chairman, Cobra Beer, who was presented with an Honorary Award at the BCA Annual Dinner, for his continued support of the Bangladeshi restaurant industry, elaborated on this by saying, “In the past four years, rents have doubled and rates have increased by 50 to 70 per cent on Brick Lane. It is imperative that we safeguard the interests of the Bangladeshi restaurant industry in this area, and I hope the government will listen. This industry is made up of people who aspire and achieve against all the odds, with integrity. Almost everyone in this room started with nothing, and has put back into the community. I am so proud to be a part of that community.”
Alongside Lord Bilimoria, four other Honorary Awards were presented at the BCA Annual Dinner, to Mahmadur Rashid, Ahmed-us Samad Chowdhury, Jalal Uddin Ahmed and Baroness Paula Monzila Uddin.
BCA Caterers’ Awards were presented to:
Muquim Ahmed – Cafe Naz (Greater London Region)
Abdul Khalique Talukdar – Khana Peena Restaurant (Greater London Region)
Ajmol Ali – Spice Club (South East Region)
Altaf Hussain – Cafe Masala (South East Region)
Enamul Haque – Spice Fusion (South East Region)
Jewel Malik – Blue Bengal Restaurant (South East Region)
Mohammed Hafizur Rahman – Spice Lodge Pan Asian Cuisine (South West Region)
Kobir Uddin – Boshundora Indian Cuisine (Midlands & East Anglia Region)
Manik Miah – Maharani Indian Cuisine (Midlands & East Anglia Region)
Mahtab Miah – Vujon Restaurant (North East Region)
Hamid Chowdhury – The Millennium Saagar (North West Region)
Abdur Rouf – Bolaka Bangldeshi Restaurant (Scotland and N. Ireland Region)
Abdul Khalique – Verandah Restaurant (Wales Region)
The theme for the BCA Annual Dinner 2007 was ‘Tastes to Share, Food to Admire’, profiling the glorious history of Bangladeshi cuisine, with a retrospect on the changed tastes it has created for the UK’s burgeoning food market which hails Bangladeshi food such as chicken-tikka-masala as Britain’s National Dish.
The awards ceremony was interspersed with a sumptuous annual dinner and a plethora of spectacular entertainment, including a performance by acclaimed international singer-songwriter, Shayan Italia. A raffle was also held at the event, from which in excess of £4,000 was raised for the victims of the Bangladesh cyclone disaster.
In speaking about the success of the event, President of the Bangladesh Caterers’ Association UK Ltd Mr Bajloor Rashid commented: “The BCA managed to create an awareness to the mainstream politicians as to who we are the work that we do, and the problems we are facing, especially the problems that the Bangladeshi restaurant industry is facing in Brick Lane – this is an issue that we are lobbying further, and really hope to achieve some successful results on this.”