Stevenage chef says new rules are a ‘recipe for disaster’ for curry houses

Chef Oli Khan.

Chef Oli Khan. - Credit: Archant

The UK’s curry industry will continue to decline unless the government changes its immigration rules to allow more skilled Indian chefs to work here, according to an award-winning chef.

Oli Khan believes that more Indian takeaways in the area will close unless something is done.

Oli, who owns Surma Takeaway and the Spice Rouge restaurant in Stevenage High Street, said: “We are just surviving. Curries are very popular here in the UK, but with the current rules it is a very difficult for the industry to carry on.”

He believes that the ban on non-EU students working up to 10 hours a week earlier this year and the requirement that Indian chefs earn a minimum of £35,000 from next July will further its decline. Oli, who has worked in the industry for more than 26 years, added: “If you run a small business and employ a chef and a Tandori chef plus four front of house staff you can’t afford to pay everyone and stay open. The prices of curries haven’t increased much in the past 10 years but costs have – and this salary increase would mean fewer curry houses across the country.”

Abdus Salam, who is the manager of The Lancer in Baldock, said: “It is going to be a big problem if these changes come in.

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“I think that many Indian restaurants won’t be able to cope with the shortage of staff.

“It will probably mean that there will be less Asian people working in Indian restaurants and more European people.

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“Some restaurants will have to shut down and others will have to find ways to adapt to the changes.”

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