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International Indian Chef of the Year Competition 2005
2nd February 2005
(scroll down for update)
Once again it's time for the International Indian Chef of the Year Competition and I was honoured to be invited, for the second year running, to a reception at the House of Commons to hear the announcement of this year's 8 finalists.

Mind you, a certain website (whose blushes I shall spare by not mentioning their name) was not at all popular with the organisers after it had broken the publication embargo and published the list of finalists some 12 hours earlier. So I went to the reception already knowing who the finalists were but I didn't mind. The Jubilee Room at the House of Commons is a grand place and it was good to meet all the people who are involved in the competition including its founder, Tommy Miah.

The reception was hosted by Alex Salmond M.P. who seemed to be accompanied by an entourage of efficient looking young women and earnest looking young men. He was later whisked away to his next appointment before I could manage to speak to him but not, of course, before he had announced the finalists.

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond
  click below to hear Alex Salmond announce the finalists

MP3 - 1.1mb
play mp3 file
  And the finalists are :

Janet Anderson of Stoke-on-Trent

Mottakin Ali of Wrexham

Wasim Aslam of Shipley

Shafi Hussain of Winchester

Junko Mackenzie of Edinburgh

Deepak Rohilla of Windsor

Fazal Said of Birmingham

Mohiuddin Howladar of Dhaka

Alex Salmond then introduced Lord Fraser of Carmyllie who has, shall we say, a fuller figure and who cracked that he had been just a "slip of a lad" before he started judging the competition but that all the good food had transformed him into the shape he was now. Joking aside, Lord Fraser also had an announcement to make which was that his wife had been so impressed with the vegetarian offerings at last year's competition that she had instigated the Lady Fraser Prize of Pounds Sterling250 for the contestant who produced the best vegetarian dish of the competition.

Before Alex Salmond was ushered back into the frenetic world of Parliament he introduced the founder of the competition, Tommy Miah, and reminded us all that the competition not only produced a Chef of the Year but that it's founding purpose was to raise money for Sreepur Village, an orphanage in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The principal source of fund raising is the annual Curry Ball held in Edinburgh on the day of the competition and at which the winner is announced.

Tommy Miah responded by telling us how he had met the orphanage's founder, Pat Kerr, in Bangladesh and the experience had persuaded him to initiate the International Indian Chef of the Year Competition. That was in 1991 and the very first competition was launched by the aptly named M.P. Edwina Currie. Tommy welcomed Pat Kerr to the reception today, 14 years on.
       Tommy Miah
Tommy Miah

Now its down to the 8 finalists to prepare for the competition. They will endure a 2 hour cook-off on the day of the Curry Ball before the judges, all 27 of them(!), assess their efforts and declare a winner. Only one can be crowned International Indian Chef of the Year and win the Pounds Sterling1,000 prize but not even our friends, the trigger-happy website, will know who that is until it's announced by the judges at the charity ball on 25th February.

update - 27th February 2005
Winner keeps it in the family

The winner of the 2005 International Indian Chef of the Year Competition was Wasim Aslam who works for Yorkshire's Aagrah Restaurant Group and is based in Shipley.

Wasim is the second member of his family to win the title. His father, Mohammed, was crowned Chef of the Year in 1995. Not only does being a top chef run in the family but Wasim also followed his father's generous example and straight away donated his Pounds Sterling1000 prize money to charity.

The meal which Wasim used to win over the judges went as follows :

Nihari Gosht (diced lamb)
Kasmirir Zafrani Korma (diced breast of chicken)
Bangan Aloo (thinly sliced aubergine and potato)
Gobhi (cauliflower) with cashew nuts

The runners up were Deepak Rohilla of the Spice Route restaurant in Windsor and Janet Anderson, a part-time student of Indian cookery, from Stoke on Trent.

Deepak Rohilla also won the newly established Lady Fraser Prize of Pounds Sterling250 for the best vegetarian dish in the competition.

useful links :

International Indian Chef of the Year Competition
Tikka Beer
Haj and Umra Travel
The Dry Bag Company
Durbar Restaurant

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© 2005 David W Smith