By Graham Hiscott
A top Indian restaurateur is to meet with senior Government officials to discuss the chef shortage facing curry houses.
Ian Pearson, MP for Dudley South, wrote to Education and Employment minister Kim Howells on behalf of Kal Dhaliwal, owner of Birmingham's Shimla Pinks, requesting a meeting to discuss the absence of any formal training in Indian cooking.
A spokesperson for Pearson said: "We want to find out first from the department whether it's true that there's no Government help for training and what prospects there are for Government support."
Pearson and Dhaliwal were due to meet with officials this week and there will be a further meeting with Howells after that.
The MP agreed to look into the problem after Dhaliwal approached him at a function and told him of the difficulties facing Indian restaurateurs. Dhaliwal wants a national training school for Indian cooking.
Dhaliwal said: "If the European sectors think they've got it bad, imagine what it's like for the Indian sector. There's no catering college to get people from, nowhere to send staff to be retrained. And you can't get top chefs from India because of the work permits. Indian restaurants make up six per cent of the total eating-out industry, yet we're not getting anything from the Government to recognise our contribution."
Dhaliwal said in future young English chefs would learn to cook Indian food. "The food eaten here is Anglo-Indian. Young people here are familiar with most Indian dishes: they know all the herbs and spices."