'We cook with love and passion': Restaurateur on curry awards win
- Credit: Kushi
The owner of a Gidea Park eatery has thanked his “loyal” customers after adding to his awards collection by being named the best in the east of England.
Indian restaurant chain Kushi – which also has branches in Grays and Canvey Island – has been most recently named best restaurant group in the region at the Asian Curry Awards.
Chief executive Sharif Uddin told this newspaper he felt “overwhelmed” after being presented with the award by TV’s Kate Silverton at a ceremony on Sunday, November 21.
He said the atmosphere at Mayfair’s Grosvenor House, where the presentation was held, was “buzzing” and said it was an “amazing feeling” to hear his restaurant’s name called.
The shortlist for the awards, which are organised by the Asian Catering Federation, was determined by a public vote and a team of judges led by Pat Chapman, editor of the Cobra Good Curry Guide, subsequently toured the country to determine the winners.
Sharif said he thought the restaurant’s unique food offering had helped convince the judges.
“Everyone feeds everyone, but we cook with love and passion,” he said.
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“It’s not just run-of-the-mill curries. Think about how many restaurants they are going into; you are having chicken madras everywhere.
“We have the generic like everybody else has but we run a blackboard where our menu changes every week; it's homecooked, what our staff would eat at the end of every day.
“What we have got on our boards and our special, you’re not getting that everywhere – it’s as-authentic-as-you-get homecooked food.”
Kushi started in 2013 in Grays and opened its branch in Havering in 2017.
During lockdown, the restaurant group provided thousands of free meals to frontline NHS staff, key workers, the elderly and vulnerable.
Sharif said he believed this community work – which resulted in his receiving a ‘local community hero’ award in September – was one of the factors in the public vote success.
The Asian Curry Awards honour is not the only gong Kushi has picked up this year.
In August, it won best restaurant group at the Asian Restaurant Awards and Kamrul Hoque, head chef at Kushi’s Gidea Park branch, was crowned best Indian chef in the London suburbs at the Asian Oriental Chef Awards in July.