Shrewsbury curry chef wins national award

Mr Shelim Hussain MBE, Founder and MD of kukd.com, Chef Mohammed Azad from Café Saffron Shrewsbury, Rupa Haq MP, Lord Karan Bilimoria, Founder Chairman of Cobra Beer and Nina Hossain, Broadcast Journalist
Mr Shelim Hussain MBE, Founder and MD of kukd.com, Chef Mohammed Azad from Café Saffron Shrewsbury, Rupa Haq MP, Lord Karan Bilimoria, Founder Chairman of Cobra Beer and Nina Hossain, Broadcast Journalist

A chef from Shrewsbury has been recognised as one of the best curry chefs in the UK – for the second year running – at a prestigious national awards ceremony in London.

Mohammed Azad, executive chef at Cafe Saffron, in Hill’s Lane, won the title at the 2015 Curry Chef of the Year Awards hosted by Curry Life magazine.

The star-studded ceremony, held at the Lancaster Hotel, attracted a gathering of celebrities, leading politicians, food and drink industry chiefs and international media.

Mr Azad was one of 40 chefs UK-wide to be recognised for their contribution to an industry worth more than £4.2 billion a year.

“To win this title is the greatest vote of confidence I could wish for, not just for myself but for my team who work so hard to make things happen at Café Saffron. The award will inspire us to keep improving,” he said.

“I am very grateful to my customers who have nominated me and they are my real inspiration.”

The glittering ceremony was hosted by ITN presenter Nina Hossain and guest of honour was Lord Karan Bilimoria, the chairman and founder of Cobra Beer, who said: “There is no doubt that curry is the nation’s favourite food and behind the great tastes of curry, are great craftsmen. Those chefs awarded by Curry Life deserve to be congratulated for their hard work and achievements.”

Other special guests included Labour’s candidate for London Mayor Sadiq Khan MP, the MP Keith Vaz and celebrity Michelin star chef Dominic Chapman.

Mr Vaz, chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, applauded the curry chefs for producing the best quality curries in Britain and paid tribute to Curry Life for setting up the benchmark to promote the most talented chefs.

It is the third time that Mr Azad has won an individual title at the awards. In total Café Saffron and its chefs have won six Curry Life awards since 2010.

Mr Azad is passionate about authentic Asian cooking, while injecting an imaginative contemporary makeover to create unique new dishes.

Syed Belal Ahmed, editor of Curry Life magazine, said: “It was a fantastic evening and a great way to recognise and celebrate the skills and talents of our curry industry. Events like this illustrate the strength of our love as a nation for curry.”

The UK may have a soft spot for old favourites like bangers and mash and fish and chips but the British appetite for curry remains unrivalled.

The Curry Life Chef Awards and Gala Dinner celebrated the ‘official’ national dish, ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’, giving visitors the chance to find out more about an industry serving 2.5 million customers a week.