Curry Life’s latest event, the 2022 Culinary Workshop, featured a host of experts sharing best practice and industry insight
The Curry Life Culinary Workshop 2022 took place on 12 June, with 150 industry professionals gathering together to share best practice, network and pick up more than a few tips. The event, which took place at the Crowne Plaza London Docklands, featured a drinks reception with networking, a series of interactive sessions and certificate presentations for a number of chefs. Guests also enjoyed a three-course dinner, prepared by Bangladeshi catering company Pride of Asia.
Addressing attendees, Syed Belal Ahmed, editor of Curry Life magazine, said: “This is an event about learning, raising standards within the industry and networking and it is nice to get back to some sort of normality.”
Savouring street food
Fergal Mullan, food safety manager UK at Just Eat, a long-time partner of Curry Life, also took to the stage, alongside food safety experts from NSF Ash Pancholi Dhillon, which visits restaurants to support them in achieving better hygiene ratings as well as offering training. Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin-star, led a live cooking street food demonstration, preparing a delicious, mouth-watering Kerala fish curry recipe. It featured spices and condiments such as chopped ginger, garlic, chilli, turmeric, red chili and coriander powder, together with tamarind paste and coconut milk.
“Spices start popping and releasing flavour into the cooking oil,” Kochhar told attendees. “And that cooking oil carries the flavour over into your curry or the sauce you are making. If you add spices too early they will not release the flavour, if you add spices when the oil is too hot, it will get burnt before it has a chance to release the flavour.”
Kochhar also spoke on how restaurants can counter the high prices of food, which have been rising steadily against a backdrop of the war between Russia and the Ukraine, supply chain issues and high labour costs.
“There will be some costs you will have to absorb – if the price of oil increases five times over, you cannot do the same to the price of your onion bhaji,” he said. “But there will be some things you can increase the price of. Let’s go back to the strength of our cuisine, we have been very strong on vegan and vegetarian food and we need to adapt, bring those dishes on the menu, which will help give you better margins.”
Michelin-star chef Mark Poynton spoke about the benefits of sustainability focusing on embedding sustainability within your business and how it impacts many other aspects beyond food and waste. This includes how you treat your staff and how to ensure your business can maintain its presence over the next decade.
“Sustainability is not just about where we buy produce from and what we do with zero waste,” he said. “It’s about how we run our business and much more besides – there is a bigger ecosystem than just the food.”
Ludovica De Pieri, a nutritionist and management consultant to the food industry and founder of Reveal My Food, also delivered a presentation, with the aim of highlighting current food-themed legislation, specifically new rules around calorie labelling. She also spoke on how restaurants can optimise their operations, how they can get the most out of ingredients and how to reach out to more diners.
“We’re also sharing some details on our website, including information on how to optimise allergens,” said De Pieri. “The whole point is to try to reduce the pressures facing restaurants.”
Syed Nahas Pasha, Curry Life magazine editor-in-chief said the event aimed not just to bring people together to share insight but was also aimed at inspiring the younger generation.
“The industry is going through a very tough time at the moment because of huge increases in the cost of living,” he said. “Everything has gone up in price and restaurants are suffering so we wanted to tackle these issues and offer some advice and guidance. Safety and hygiene is also very important.”
Delegates were keen to network and share knowledge, with Ruhel Hoque, managing director of The Indian Ocean restaurant in Cambridge saying it presented a great opportunity to network and learn about issues affecting the industry, such as forthcoming or new legislation. Other attendees said there was a fantastic vibe during the event, and that it was ‘great to see so many familiar faces as well as new ones.’
The event also featured stands from Curry Life partners, including Lakeland Dairies, which has recently launched a long-life single cream product and Bangla Beer.
Chefs who received their certificates on the night included Ruhel Hoque from The Indian Ocean, Brian Mohan Miah from Cafe Spice, Syed Zohorul Islam from The Capital, Mohammed Al Amin Ali from Milennium Balti, Mohammed Shaek Ahmed from Junoon, Tipu Miah from Zyka, Jamal Uddin Ahemd from Shozna, Joe Choudhury from River Spice and Khayer Ahmed Chowdhury from Kaz’s India & Bangladesh Restaurant.
The event was held together with support from headline sponsor Just Eat, with additional event partners including Unisoft Solutions, City Bank, Bangla Beer and Travel Link Worldwide. Curry Life’s next event will be the Curry Life Awards, which reward and recognise the individuals who represent the very best of the British curry Industry. It takes place on 9 October at The Great Room, The Grosvenor House, London. Find out more about the event by visiting www.currylifeawards.com.