Shropshire Council

Massala in Craven Arms wins ‘Curry Chef of the Year 2015’

13 August 2015 Last updated at 02:14

Massala in Craven Arms awarded this year’s prestigious title ‘Curry Chef of the Year 2015’

In true MasterChef style, Jukria Raza of Massala in Craven Arms was awarded the prestigious title of Shropshire Council’s Curry Chef of the Year 2015 after a dramatic final ‘cook-off’ on Tuesday 11 August.

The competition was held at Derwen College in Gobowen, a residential college for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. It was held within the newly constructed Bradbury Food Centre, a fantastic new facility at the college.

Not only was it the first time the final had been won by a female, it was the first time a female had even reached the final, despite her takeaway Massala making the final last year.

Mrs. Raza, who had to overcome a bad cut to her finger sustained halfway through the hour long competition, accepted her award and thanked her family saying:

“I’d like to give this award to my husband, he has worked so hard on Massala. I always come up with new recipes for my husband and my children, which sometimes don’t always work!”

Criteria for entering the competition states that a food hygiene rating of three or above must be met. Mrs. Raza commented on this by saying:

“At Massala we always strive to keep a high standard in quality of ingredients, hygiene standards and health and safety. I only work part-time in the kitchen so my husband again deserves a lot of credit for keeping these standards so high.”

The other three contestants that made it to the final in Gobowen were: The Third Place from Shrewsbury, Oswestry Tandoori and local favourites Taj Tandoori who are based in Gobowen.

The chefs all had to produce a main curry dish, a side dish and rice to compliment, all in just one hour. All dishes were then tasted by the judging panel, checking for both taste and nutritional value.

The winning dish was a Lamb Karai served on the bone with a Chana Pilau rice and a spicy Saag Aloo side with fresh home grown spinach.

Mal Price, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for business and regulatory services, commented:

“I’d like to take this opportunity to say a very well done to Mrs. Raza and Massala for winning the competition as well as the other finalists for getting this far.

“The standards of chefs has always been high in Shropshire and this competition goes some way to proving that point. The contest was first held in 2010 and goes from strength to strength whilst also managing to promote the stature of these fantastic restaurants and takeaways in the Shropshire area.”

The judging panel commented on how fantastic the food was especially considering the time limit, and how they would recommend all the venues to their friends. The panel was made up of:

  • Terry Alexander, Community Protection Manager, Shropshire Council.
  • Dr. Nathan Thomas, Help2Change advisor.
  • Cllr Paul Milner, Oswestry Deputy Major.
  • Nina Brown, Derwen College Representative.

Further information

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