A chef from Worthing proved he is second to naan by being crowned the top curry maestro at a national awards ceremony.
Maruf Ahmed Pathan, who works at the Shaan Indian Cuisine, in Tarring Road, Worthing, was voted best curry chef of the year in his category at the annual Curry Life Awards.
He collected his coveted award in front of an audience of more than 600 people at a gala event in London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel hosted by broadcaster Michael Buerk.
Owner of Shaan, Syed Shamim Ahmed, said: “We’re all delighted for Maruf. He is a fantastic chef and produces consistently good food.
“It made a change for him to be sitting down and being waited on. It was great evening for everyone and the award will take pride of place in the restaurant.”
Maruf, who is the head chef of the Shaan, started working in the curry industry as a teenager washing up and peeling potatoes.
A chef took him under his wing after seeing how interested he was in cooking and his favourite pastime in the kitchen is creating new dishes.
This year awards ceremony recognised the best 13 best curry restaurants and 19 best curry chefs in the UK, and the four best curry takeaways.
The Curry Life Awards celebrate the unique fusion cuisine of Indian food in the UK and is part of a wider organisation that organises the British Curry Festival around the world.
Syed Belal Ahmed, editor of Curry Life Magazine, which organises the awards, said: “We have been championing the British curry cuisine for many years and despite being hit hard by several recessions, it has managed to survive and flourish.
“There are pressing issues that need to be resolved, such as relaxing overseas work permits and a sensible discussion about spiralling business rates, but the awards ceremony was about recognition and celebration of much loved British curry.”
Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer was at the awards. He said: “The curry industry makes a huge contribution to the economy and is an integral part of the UK dining experience.
“It’s been through some tough times but has continued to grow and develop to meet the growing appetite for this cuisine.
“Its employees epitomise the ethos that hard work brings success and I’m delighted they are in the spotlight tonight and able to sit back and enjoy an evening off.”