BRITISH KEBAB AWARDS 2016
The British Kebab Awards 2016 was held at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel on the 23rd March and saw Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, London’s next potential Mayor, Sadiq Khan and many more local MPs and public figures feast the night away in the glorious juicy flavours of kebabs, and celebrate the creme-de-la-cremes of your local kebab shops and family run restaurants.
Since it’s beginnings the British Kebab Awards established in 2013 has had a massive following and popularity, especially amongst local MPs and the Prime Minister David Cameron himself. Leader of the Conservative Party states: “The UK’s food and drink sector makes an important contribution to the British economy, with over 1.4 million working inthe catering sector alone. The Kebab has an ever growing role in British social life and its popularity as a food is owed in no small part to the talented restaurants and chefs who are being nominated for awards this year.”
And what a growth it has had over the years since it’s first kebab shop opened in North London in 1966! The kebab industry has outgrown the British national food heritage, ye good ol’ fish’n’chips.
Fish’n’Chips are ingrained in British DNA but we’re seeing the British kebab industry blow up massively and becoming a national food stamp just like the curry. According to the organisers of the British Kebab Awards, the industry contributes £2.2 billion to the British economy in comparison to the fish’n’chips industry that contributes £1.1 billion to the British economy. 1.3 million kebabs are sold by vendors every day in the UK with over 20,000 kebab outlets in the UK selling around 2,500 tonnes of lamb and chicken doner a week. This is more than the fish’n’chips industry that has currently 10,500 fish and chips shops across the UK.
Kebabs have now become a firm favorite in many British households and judging by the people we spoke to at the award ceremony, people from all backgrounds love a good kebab especially as a second dinner or on a good date, or even after a bad break-up, as Scott Mills and Chris Stark say. Keith Vaz said he’s eaten more kebabs than probably has had votes, and Jeremy Corbyn loves a good falafel and believs he has eaten falafel in almost all kebab shops and restaurants of his constituency.
There are several factors why perhaps kebabs are becomng more widespread and consumed across the British nation.
For practical reasons: the opening time of restaurants suits all as most kebab shops and restaurants open form lunch time, even for breakfast until the early hours of 2 or 3am, whereas most fish’n’chip shops won’t remain open until any later than 11:30pm.
For health reasons: a tradtional kebab is the special marinade and spices on the chicken or lamb and then it’s up to you whether to add pita bread, wrap, chips or rice, and add some veggies such as salad, pickles, hummus or any other types of sauces.
Historically and culturally: the first big wave of turkish working migrants to the UK came in 1960s and are now well integrated and running a lot of businesses especially in the food sector.
London is now even seeing an emergence of kebab gourmet restaurants, such as Sesame, Chifafa and newly opened Le Bab. Young British entrepeneurs seem to own these fine dining kebab restaurants that merge the Middle Eastern cuisine with British and even French influence. This just proves how the British food identity culturally is evolving. The growing success of the awards and industry as a whole is a testament to the great cultural and economic contribution.
But the kebab industry still hasn’t beat the nation’s favourite: the curry. Today, the curry industry generates £4.2bn for our economy. It employs 100,000 people and every single week Brits consume 2.5m curries. However, in recent reports this industry appears to be brewing a crisis with the shortage of curry house chefs. Under the current visa rules, a chef seeking entry to the U.K. from outside of the European Union must earn a salary of £29,570, which is a lot for restaurant owners to pay. According to the Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA) two curry houses are closing down each week. This is due to the immigration laws and the younger generation not taking over the family-run business. Oli Khan Head of the BCA even blames Taxi company like Uber for this decline, since many move into that trade instead as an easy option.
So watch out fish’n’chips, curries and more as there’s a kebab storm on the horizon!