The resilience of food business owners from across the UK was celebrated at the 2021 Asian Restaurant Awards in Manchester.

The ceremony took place at the Mercure Piccadilly, on Tuesday 31 August, hosted by BBC news anchor Samantha Simmonds.

Addressing the Asian Catering Federation’s (ACF) first awards ceremony with a live audience since 2019, its Chairman Yawar Khan, acknowledged the Asian hospitality sector’s resilience, innovation and generosity in the face of a global pandemic.

He said: “In order to survive, some Michelin-starred fine dining Indian restaurants began offering takeaways for the very first time.

“Others sold finish-at-home meal kits, containing pre-measured ingredients and recipe instructions. Another operated pop-up delivery kitchens, based in locked-down pubs.

“Our community is nothing if not strong in the face of hardships.

“We are now faced with severe staff shortages and rising costs.

“It has never been more critical for this sector to stop competing on low prices and instead focus on offering premium quality.  There is no shortage of customers willing to pay for a superior product.”

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Asma Khan’s whose female-only kitchen of former home cooks at London’s Darjeeling Express, won Best Casual Dining Restaurant 

Rajesh Suri, owner of Grand Trunk Road, who led Tamarind to the first Indian restaurant in the UK to a Michelin Star, won Best Asian Restaurant (London).

Grand Trunk Road’s and Tamarin’s former head chef Dayashankar Sharma received the Best Newcomer award for his Heritage Dulwich debutant.

Stephen Gomes, collected the award for Best Fusion Restaurant for DUSK in Brentwood, Essex for his “spectacular” molecular gastronomy.

Special Just East regional accolades for Best Takeaway went to Stopsley Sturma in Luton and Achaari in Macclesfield.

Xiang Yang Liu chef at Panda Mami, with branches in Chester, York and Manchester, was awarded for the Best Asian Fusion Buffet.

There were also special prizes for Shabit Hussain of the Akbar Group (Curry King), a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Aagrah Group’s Mohammed Aslam, and Community Hero Awards for Mohamed Shajad Khan of Blue Tiffin in Oldham and Mahi Masum.

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North of England winners

Lifetime Achievement Award
For outstanding contribution  to the industry
North of England Mohammed Aslam of the Aagrah Group

Curry King
Shabir Hussain Akbar’s Group

Best Asian Buffet Restaurant
Royal Nawaab Manchester

Winner Best Casual Dining
Kebabish Original, Blackburn

Community Hero Award 
Hassan Choudhury, Manchester

Community Hero Award
Mahi Masum, Manchester

Best Asian Fusion Buffet Chef
Xiang Yang Liu, Panda Mami

Asian Chef of the Year
Mohammed Shajad Khan
Blue Tiffin Restaurant

Asian Chef of the Year
Mofizur Rahman, Chutney Masala

Asian Chef of the Year
Ashwani Rangta, Asha’s, Manchester

Asian Chef of the Year
Mohammed Iftekher Hussain
Baby Kingfisher Restaurant, Blackpool

The awards are sponsored by Just Eat and Booker Wholesale.