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International Indian Chef of the Year Competition 2006
20th July 2005
(scroll down for update of 10th March 2006)
Do you think you've got the talent to win an award and a nice fat cheque for Pounds Sterling1000 by cooking an Indian meal?

Some of the cooking competitions we have covered on The Curry House are for professional chefs only. But not this one. The International Indian Chef of the Year Competition is open to anyone. Whether you are male or female, Indian or Scottish, chef or housewife - it doesn't matter to the organisers.

Tommy Miah and Alex Salmond
Tommy Miah & Alex Salmond
          In previous years The Curry House has reported on the announcement of the finalists and the crowning of the winner. This year we were in at the beginning and I have just returned from a reception held at the House of Commons to mark the launch of the new competition. The event was hosted by Alex Salmond M.P. whose association with the contest goes back many years and who is also one of the judges. The competition was founded by Edinburgh entrepreneur Tommy Miah in 1991 and Tommy was, of course, on hand to kick off this year's contest. The purpose of the competition is not only to promote innovation and quality in Indian cuisine but also to raise money for Sreepur Village which is an orphanage in Bangladesh. The money is raised from the annual Curry Ball, held in Edinburgh, at which the winner is announced.

The rules for entering the contest are simple. Anyone may enter. There is no charge. You need an official Entry Form. You must devise your ideal Indian meal of 4 dishes - 2 meat, fish or poultry and 2 vegetarian. Send in your entry form describing your menu. All you have to do then is wait to see if you have been chosen to compete. If you happen to live in Bangladesh there is a separate heat held there to choose a national winner who is then guaranteed a place in the international final.

Although the competition has been won in the past by a fair number of Bangladeshi chefs (not surprisingly, as they staff about 80% of "Indian" restaurants in the UK) it has also been won by an English in-flight caterer, two housewives and a college lecturer. The 8 finalists for each competition have come from an even wider variety of ethnic, national and professional backgrounds.

So what qualities do you need to take part in the final? Having talked to Tommy Miah at the reception I think I've got a feel for who might do well. And by the way, this is my list not Tommy's so don't blame him if I've got it wrong!
         Alex Salmond enjoying the catering at the House of Commons reception
Alex Salmond enjoying the catering at the House of Commons reception

Apart from being able to cook excellently you will need :
  • optimism - there are only 8 finalist chosen from a massive 5000+ entrants

  • originality - you won't get anywhere by entering a menu using Indian restaurant clichés like chicken Madras or Bombay aloo.

  • stamina (mental and physical) - if you are lucky enough to be chosen as one of the finalists then you will have to prepare and cook your meal from scratch in front of 20 or so judges in just 2½ hours. That is very tough believe me. I have watched seasoned professionals go to pieces as one their dishes has failed to cook properly and the clock is ticking away.

  • artistic ability - not only do you have to plan and cook your meal but you also have to present it to table with a fair degree of style.

  • stoicism - there may be 8 finalists but there is only 1 winner.

Tommy Miah being interviewed for Bangladeshi TV
Tommy Miah being interviewed for Bangladeshi TV
         There is one thing you don't need and that's money. The competition is free to enter and if you are lucky (and talented) enough to be chosen as one of the finalists the trip to the cook-off in Edinburgh comes with all expenses paid.

For an entry form write to :

International Indian Chef of the Year Competition
Bengal Tiger House
85-91 Henderson Street

Good Luck!

update - 10th March 2006

The winner of the International Indian Chef of the Year Competition has been announced by the chairman of the judging panel, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.

The Pounds Sterling1000 prize went to Sanjeev Kumar of the New Monsoon restaurant in Leek, Staffordshire. His menu consisted of peppery roast leg of lamb, stuffed chicken breasts, sweet & sour aubergines and black lentil dhal.

Second place was awarded to P.C. Thakur of 9 Cellars in Edinburgh and in third place was Khaled Miah of Newcastle. Khaled Miah also won the Lady Fraser prize of Pounds Sterling250 for the best vegetable dish.
           Sanjeev Kumar in action
Sanjeev Kumar in action

useful links :

International Indian Chef of the Year Competition
Tikka Beer
our report on the 2004/5 competition
our report on the 2003/4 competition

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© 2005-2006 David W Smith