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Shropshire Chef Wins Curry Awards

Award Winning ChefIjlal Haider

Dorrington Old Hall Persian Cuisine was awarded the prestigious title of Shropshire Council Curry Chef of the Year 2013 after an exciting final ‘cook-off’ on Monday 13 May. This was their third successive final appearance and Dr Ijlal Haider was clearly overwhelmed to finally receive the award saying:

“I always thought I would be the one watching the winner collect the award after these past years coming so close! It’s just fantastic – on top of the world feeling – to be the lucky one this time. It means so much to me.”
The other three finalists were: Sheraz Tandoori Restaurant in Shrewsbury, Panacea in Shrewsbury and Thai Mere Restaurant in Ellesmere.

The chefs produced a curry, side dish and rice accompaniment for a panel of judges at Radbrook Catering College in Shrewsbury, where they had one hour to cook and display their chosen menu. Their work was then tasted and assessed by the judges before the trophy was awarded by Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council cabinet member for business growth, to Dr Haider.

Cllr Charmley said:

“Our congratulations go to Dorrington Old Hall Persian Cuisine on winning the competition and the title of Shropshire Council Curry Chef of the Year 2013.
“The four finalists all demonstrated exceptionally high standards of culinary expertise, food hygiene and creativity – we were faced with an extremely difficult task in choosing the winner.
“Embracing our ‘Eat Well Live Longer’ theme, this year we added an extra criterion to the judging which focused on the nutritional value of the dishes, ensuring that the curry chefs do not use too much salt, fat, colouring or sugar when preparing their meals.
“It is worth highlighting that the scores for taste and the scores for nutrition correlated with each other, demonstrating that it really does have an impact on the quality of the food in every way.”
Dr Haider, who is also a surgeon and practiced medicine for 21 years, said:

“I’ve been a chef for 3 and half years now. It is my passion, my love for food which took me into it and I’m so glad that I did. It’s become an obsession now!
“The nutritional value of the food is very, very important. Being from the medical profession I have seen the effects of poor diet. The NHS is spending billions on health problems such as obesity, blood pressure and heart problems; all arising from diet alone. Everything boils down to food. If we all eat well, we live longer and don’t need the NHS as much.”
The winning menu consisted of Shimla Chicken Curry (bone-in) and Beryani style Pullao with Lotus root. The side, described by Dr Haider as his “signature dish”, was fresh Cornish Lemon Sole, with whole cumin, onions in a tempura style batter and fried, accompanied with aubergine and yoghurt dip.

All Indian, Bangladeshi, Balti, Thai and similar restaurants and takeaways in the Shropshire Council area with a food hygiene rating of three (satisfactory) or above were invited to enter the competition. The entries were assessed by the health protection and prevention team in public protection. The successful applicants were visited to ensure that good food safety practices are being met, and to taste and consider the nutritional value of the chef’s chosen dishes.

The competition judges were:

Sean McNulty, Senior Chef Lecturer at Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology at Radbrook Campus
Paul McGreary, Shropshire Council’s head of public protection
Paola Alessandri-Gray – Public Health Project Manager (Obesity)

For more information about the Old Hall Persian please visit


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