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Restaurant boss welcomes minimum wage hike

Restaurant boss welcomes minimum wage hike


Dev Biswal, owner chef of The Ambrette restaurants in Kent and Sussex, is backing the Chancellor George Osborne’s proposal to raise minimum wage. Biswal has also called for a government clampdown on the widespread tax evasion within the catering sector, which he describes as “endemic”. Biswal believes that better wages for the low paid working in restaurants, pubs, hotels and cafes would benefit both the catering sector and the wider economy as a whole. The short-term pain felt by restaurants’ rising wage bills, would be quickly offset by increased takings – especially if offset by a cut in employers’ national insurance contributions.

“Paying a living wage, would put more money in the hands of kitchen and waiting staff – which would be spent on the high street, boosting company profits and restoring the balance sheets in the beleaguered banking sector,” said Biswal, who urges dinners to stop paying cash.

“We seem to have a mentality in this country where the wealthiest people need generous tax breaks and enormous bonuses, whilst those at the bottom of the heap need to have their living standards cut,” he said, adding, “But economic history shows that businesses do better when ordinary people have a rise in living standard, not the other way round.”

Biswal says that someone working full-time on minimum wage, supporting a child and partner is typically entitled to benefits of around £1500 a month.

“This means the government is subsidising exploitative employers, many of whom are national and multi national concerns, which make hundreds of millions in profits and pay enormous boardroom salaries and bonuses. Vast quantities of undeclared cash are taken abroad by owners of ethnic restaurants and their families – usually to buy properties in their home towns - it is claimed.

“Why else do children need two grand pocket money on a cheap family holiday?”

Biswal currently has two restaurants, in Margate and Rye, employs 22 staff – but plans to double that number by April, with the opening of two additional venues and a centralised kitchen facility – ahead of continued expansion in 2014 and 2015. All employees are paid above minimum wage.


Killer Curry

Killer Curry


The Minnis Bar & Restaurant in Birchington is hosting another of its “famous” curry evenings on Friday 28th February. The all-you-can-eat buffet of Indian delicacies and side dishes costs £13.95 per person, including the first drink.

The beachfront venue will also be holding a Murder Mystery Evening on Wednesday 26th March. The evening’s entertainment includes a selection of antipasti, tapas and desserts at £20 a head including a complimentary drink.

In between Minnis' chef patron Jason Freedman and his team will be catering the great and the good in the Kent food world at the Taste of Kent awards being held at the Kent Showground in Detling on Thursday 13th March.

The special menu designed to showcase some of the county's best produce includes
homemade charcuterie accompanies with pickles and chutneys produced with fruits of Thanet Earth's greenhouses; Salt Marsh Grazed Lamb and desserts including foraged rosehips, crab apples and Kentish pears.


Lunch Box

Lunch Box


Marking the Hindu Festival of Colour, Soho's pan-Indian restaurant and cocktail lounge, Carom, is to offer a special ‘Holi’ lunchboxes between 17th and 21st March.

Holi marks the triumph of ‘good’ over 'bad', using bold colours to symbolise new beginnings and to renew relationships. Chef Vishnu Natarajan has created a Holi Lunch Box, with “an array of exciting colours and impressive flavours.”

Costing £7.50 the “limited edition” lunchboxes contains small dishes including a purple Dhaba Salad with Asian Vinaigrette and a spiced Tandoori Roasted Pappad Cone, bite sized Mini Paratha, garnished with ruby red bell peppers.

Other dishes are a golden Chicken Malai Tikka; a brightly coloured Dal Saagwala with fresh spinach, cumin & garlic; a creamy Cucumber Raitha; Baked Basmati Rice; and a mahogany Sticky Toffee Pudding.

From the bar, gaudy cocktails will include a “sunny” Holi CocktaiI, made from passionfruit, apple, blueberry, lemon juice, and “generous” splash of Brockman’s Gin or the flamingo pink Phalguna Cocktail, with from raspberries, apple, vanilla and Southern Comfort also at £7.50.

Carom’s Tea Light Lounge will be decorated with atmospheric candles refracting with beautiful jars of vibrant coloured powder that is traditionally thrown during Holi celebrations. Rainbow pools of coloured water complete with floating candles will add to the ambience.



Fire-breathing Dragon

Fire-breathing Dragon


A former City investment manager, Vini Aujla and husband Bal, have become the first British Asian couple to secure funding on BBC2’s Dragons’ Den, for their 'Vini & Bal’s' cook-in curry sauce brand.

The show’s new Dragon, Piers Linney, invested £50K for a 30% stake in the business, his first foray into the food and drink sector.

There are four varieties, ranging from mild to "flaming hot” of fresh, chilled Punjabi spice blend bases: Tharka, Fiery Mirchi, Jeera and Shahi, created as “an alternative to the gloopy, bland, preservative-packed jars.”

In addition to providinga deeply flavoured, richly spiced foundation for classic curry recipes, the sauces can be stirred into soups, used as a seasoning for stews or casseroles, a marinade for meat, an accompaniment to meatballs, a topping for toast or a sandwich filling.

Aimed at health conscious consumers, the sauces are vegetarian and gluten-free without artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, incorporating ingredients such as rapeseed oil, which is traditionally used throughout India and contains healthy Omegas 3, 6 & 9 and essential fatty acids.

Available nationwide from Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Booths priced at c£2.80 for a 300g resealable pot with a 21-day shelf life.


Macau Stars

Macau Stars


18 hotels and 56 restaurants in Macau have been included in The Michein Guide Hong Kong & Macau 2014. The inclusion of ten new restaurants and two new hotels in Macau is seen as indicative of the increasingly diverse food scene in this region of Asia.

Receiving three Michelin stars is The Eight. Serving Cantonese and Huaiyang cuisine and over 50 different types of dim sum, the restaurant is now "exceptional cuisine and worth a special journey". It is located in the Grand Lisboa's iconic dome alongside Robuchon au Dome which retains its three Michelin stars. Robuchon au Dome is famous for its contemporary French dishes and its immaculate setting offering 360° views across Macau.
In the two-star category, “excellent cooking and worth a detour”, are Zi Yat Heen, a traditional Cantonese restaurant set in the Four Seasons Hotel and the Golden Flower, upgraded from one star in 2013. The Beijing inspired Golden Flower is located within the Encore hotel and serves three superbly created different cuisines - Sichuan, Lu and Tan along with a few Cantonese dishes.
Seven further restaurants throughout Macau have been awarded one Michelin star, while nine affordable establishments are recognised within the Bib Gourmand category. This category reflects the Michelin inspectors’ favourite outlets for good value and quality cuisine and includes everything from restaurants and local food stalls to noodle shops and congee eateries all within easy reach of key tourist and historic sites as well as on the islands of Taipa and Coloane.

Situated on the south-east coast of China only 40 miles from Hong Kong, Macau has some of the best Portuguese food outside Portugal, Chinese cuisine of all kinds and is home to its unique Macanese cuisine. One of the original fusion cuisines, Macanese food blends Portuguese flavours and cooking styles with local Chinese cuisine and dawis on influences from Africa, India, South America and Malaysia.


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