Over the past years we have read various articles about Indian restaurant closures, especially in Scotland. In a plea to change this, a group of curry chefs have voiced their concerns over UK immigration, seeing first hand how it is impacting the food industry. Encouraging a skills shortage, businesses are finding it difficult to recruit top chefs from the Indian sub-continent, wanting to bring the subject into the limelight ahead of a curry industry awards ceremony in Glasgow on Monday.
At present, immigration rules stated by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and the Home Office, say that non-EU chefs cannot be employed of the restaurant offers a takeaway service. While officials say the aim is to drive innovative, restaurant owners are feeling it to have the opposite impact.
Ajmal Mushtaq, who runs a restaurant in Hamilton providing up to 3,000 meals a week, is one business owner that feels the law is “total insanity”.
Holding two portions of a curry – one on a plate, the other in a take-away tray – he said: “Here is a chicken tikka chasni, one of our top selling dishes.
“What the government are saying is: if I put that same dish into a container, I’m not allowed to bring expert chefs over from India.
“The quality is the exact same.”
Diminishing his plans toe expand his restaurant, Ajmal can n o longer work with the same recruitment method that aided his success:
“As a result of bringing over three chefs a few years ago, I have been able to create 52 jobs in this business,” he said.
“We are at the point of expanding our business. If I were to bring over another two chefs, I would be able to increase the number of employees up to 95 in this one establishment alone.”
As just one voice putting pressure on the industry to revise its rules, Ajmal makes up a small portion of angry business owners. Hans Ram, chief executive of the catering recruitment agency Goldstar Chefs, is another individual campaigning for change.
“They have totally misunderstood and misconceived the industry as being a low-paid, low-skilled jobs base. Which it is not,” he said.
“The biggest consequence to this is actually the skills erosion – erosion of authenticity.
“It is affecting the product that the public are being served.”
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