Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Restaurants to promote equal opportunities

Today the Institute of Curry Emporia, ICE, launched its campaign to improve awareness of equality and diversity within the restaurant trade, an industry it says has lagged behind the rest of business in embracing the diversity of British racial demographics.

“For too long now the workforce of Indian Restaurants in the United Kingdom has been dominated by people of Asian origin,” explained Chandra Billingu.

“We need to ensure that the Indian Restaurant of tomorrow reflects the rich diversity of British culture with equal opportunity for all.”

Whilst the curry has for some time laid claim to being Britain’s national dish the overwhelming majority of over 70,000 staff in more than 8,000 Indian restaurants in the UK are of an Asian background.

“We are working with schools and colleges to stimulate interest in the finest Asian cuisine,” said Mr Billingu. “We will have workshops with the finest curry chefs from Birmingham and Bradford visiting schools throughout the country. We are also launching a comprehensive range of free recipe books and cooking technique manuals.”

ICE said that it was not just its members’ restaurants that needed to do better to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to get jobs within the restaurant trade.

“Chinese and Thai restaurants are typically staffed by people from a Far-Eastern culture, rarely do you see a blond Scandinavian serving the tables, or a ginger-haired Scot in the kitchen,” said Mr. Billingu. “If the campaign to get a more representative workforce is a success for Curry Houses, it can be a success in other areas too.”

The hope is that the restaurants on our high streets will be waited on and cooked for by the same racial mix as the nation they are serving.

“We need to reflect our society, “ affirmed Mr. Billingu. “Recent surveys in the newspapers suggest that restaurants in Kent should actually be staffed with Romanians and Poles!”

However not everyone in the restaurant trade has welcomed the move, some see a danger in diluting the cultural heritage that makes each eatery unique.

“It just isn’t necessary,” said John Bull who owns the ‘Cuore di Roma’, an Italian Restaurant in Basildon. “Most Italian waiters are called Darren and were born in Essex anyway. They just put the accent on to pull the female patrons.”

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