An estimated 500 curry houses operate successfully between Ballyferriter in Kerry and Ballycastle in Antrim. Standards have risen to such heights in recent years that they are now regular features in national food and restaurant award schemes across Ireland.
The awards scheme is the brain-child of Belfast-based restaurateur Ali Askir. The owner of SAFA says the time has come to create a specialist Asian awards scheme to recognise the contribution made to Ireland’s food scene by hundreds of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian chefs, restaurant workers and managers.
“Asian food is now as popular and as widespread as the full Irish, the Ulster Fry and Irish stew,” says Mr Askir.
“Curry houses employ thousands of people right across Ireland and play a significant role in the local economies of communities everywhere. I believe the time has come to formally recognise this contribution and what better way to do this than through the Irish Curry Awards?”
Philip Morgan, National Account Executive for Molson Coors, distributor of Cobra in Northern Ireland says quality beer goes hand in hand with quality curry.
Cobra Beers are created using unique recipes and production processes to give them their distinctive character and smoothness. The Cobra beer range has been composed to delight smooth beer enthusiasts and is the holder of 88 Gold Medals by Monde Selection; is the most awarded beer in the World! This makes Cobra beer’s link with the Irish Curry Awards a perfect fit as we expand in the Irish markets north and south. Our focus is to showcase our great Cobra beer via the Indian restaurant sector and this is a great way to help achieve that” says Morgan.
Stevie McIntyre from Yelp! says the listings site has a strong tradition of involvement with the restaurant sector.
“We recently ran the successful Yelp! Burger Off in Belfast and to be working with the Irish Curry Awards is something very exciting for us, particularly as they are such a feature of our towns and villages right across Ireland,” says Mr McIntyre.
The Irish Curry awards will consist of six categories including Best Chef, Best Young Chef, Best Restaurant, Best Front of House, Best Takeaway and Best Newcomer. You can nominate your favourite restaurant on the website www.irishcurryawards.com.
A quota of votes will then be calculated at the close of entries to create a shortlist of restaurants county by county. A panel of expert judges including food writers and editors from broadcast and leading newspapers will select the winners.
An awards ceremony will be held in Belfast on October 24th.
Mr Askir, who has ruled himself out of the competition, is urging people across the Republic of Ireland in Northern Ireland to vote as soon as possible.
All profits will go to The Children’s Heartbeat Trust.