Now trained British chefs to cook in India

London: A senior British minister credited with launching five `curry colleges` in Britain believes that the test of the new initiative is when new graduates will be sought after by employers and restaurants in India.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, whose love for Indian food perhaps contributed to the idea of setting up the `curry colleges`, wants Britons to learn Indian culinary skills to meet the shortage of chefs in the 3.2 billion pounds industry as visa restrictions make it virtually impossible to hire from the Indian sub-continent.

But Pickles wants to go further. He wants the new graduates to take their newly acquired skills to India. According to him, the test "would be if you are going to open a top-notch Indian restaurant in Connaught Square in New Delhi, you would want a graduate of the British catering school. We are pretty close to being able to deliver that."

The five institutions termed `centres of excellence` where the six-week training courses will be delivered under the 1.75 million pounds government initiative are: Westminster Kingsway College, University of West London, Leeds City College, University College Birmingham, and Trafford College.

Owners of Indian restaurants have extended a cautious welcome, hoping that the course will enable trainees to imbibe not only the right skills but also a work ethic that involves working long hours in kitchens.

Many Indian restaurants across Britain have closed due to the chefs shortage. Recent figures indicate that there are 11,100 Asian and Oriental restaurants throughout the UK, which represents 10 per cent of all restaurants.