Bedfordshire’s ‘Mr. Curry’ launches search for county’s best spice restaurant!

RajThe man known affectionately in the trade as Bedfordshire’s ‘Mr Curry’ is today launching his latest personal culinary quest - to find the finest spice restaurant in the county!

Raj Mandal, who is General Manager of The Mansion House, is hoping that the competition – the search for  the ‘Bedfordshire Spice Restaurant of the Year 2012/13’ - will encourage some healthy rivalry among the finest local curry houses, as well offer some well-deserved recognition to those who work so hard within the sector.

“I’ve recently been involved as judge in a similar competition in one of our neighbouring counties,” explained Raj, “and decided it was high time that we should celebrate the excellence of our spice chefs here in Bedfordshire!

“I think such projects are a great way of helping to develop cooking skills as well as self-discipline and organisational skills in the kitchen and I’m hoping that our local restaurants, be they Bangladeshi, Indian or even Thai, will be keen to get involved.”

For a man who is so used to picking up his own awards, whether it be ‘European Curry Chef of the Year’ or ‘Education Chef of the Year’, and who regularly helps students at Bedford College to success - as was enjoyed at the recent British Open Cookery Championships - Raj is hoping that this competition will serve to acknowledge how the sector has changed of late.

“I’ve seen the standard of cooking improve dramatically in our curry restaurants over the last decade and in the variety of dishes and flavours they offer and I hope this competition will offer the opportunity for some of the very best to enjoy a much-deserved public pat on the back for their efforts.” he added.

That enthusiasm is being shared by Booker, the UK’s largest cash and carry operator, who are sponsoring the competition. Simon King, Booker’s Regional Catering Controller who looks after the branches at both Bedford and Luton, explained why the firm wanted to get involved; “Booker is at the heart of supplying local business in Bedfordshire, with a wide range of customers including restaurants, pubs, event caterers and cafes who enjoy our increasing choice, lower prices and improved service both in branch and through our deliveries. We are therefore delighted to be supporting the ‘Bedfordshire Spice Restaurant of the Year’ award, which will reward those restaurants who provide exceptional food and outstanding service.”

The competition, which welcomes entries from venues across the Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire, will see chefs asked to devise a four-dish menu consisting of a starter, main course, side dish and a pudding. A select panel of judges will then ‘mystery shop’ the chosen venues before a final eight are chosen to take part in a cook-off in the award-winning kitchens of Bedford College. The results will then be announced at a glittering Awards Dinner at The Mansion House at Old Warden Park in September, at which the food will be cooked by a very special group of chefs, as Raj revealed;

“With the equivalent of the World Food Olympics taking place in October, I’m delighted to say that I shall be bringing my team of student chefs who’ll be representing India to The Mansion House. It will be a perfect way not only for them to prepare for their own culinary battle the following month but also to give our finalists in this competition the chance to have a night away from their tandoor ovens and frying pans and enjoy someone else’s hard work! It’s going to be a very special night!”

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