End of Year Review from S. Choudhury (2016)

We come to the close of another year and like every year, we are left wondering how on earth it has finished so quickly! Undoubtedly it has been a tough and emotional year in which we have lost many celebrities, colleagues, loved ones and even personalities in the curry industry; including the untimely passing of Mr. Goyas Miah (Uncle) who was a dear friend of my Father, we lost Peter Grove (a famous restaurant critic & lover of the British Raj) as well as Lord Gulam Noon.

It seems slightly surreal that 18 months ago, I graduated from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy & took the reins of Royston Tandoori as a fresh faced 18 year old British-Bangladeshi excited at the upcoming challenges and prospect of running my own business.

Fast forward 18 months, and Royston is now home to one of the top Indian takeaways in the country, holding a clutch of awards & titles to back up the claim of being amongst the best; alongside a shiny five star hygiene rating.

The year kicked off with giving back to the community, in the form of a few Indian culinary masterclasses at my old stomping ground – Roysia Middle School. What an experience, teaching truly is rewarding and it was a great feeling watching all of the prodigy chefs cook with such passion.

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The first class at Roysia Middle School, led by Executive Chef Habibur Rahman-Shamim in January 2016
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Myself leading a class at Roysia in March 2016

In January, we received our first award after the Royston & District Round Table crowned Royston Tandoori with the title “Best Indian Takeaway in Royston 2016” subsequent to a secret taste test of all the Indian restaurants and takeaways in the area.

In February, I was called to the national stage to explain my opinions on the #BritishCurryCrisis & how to get the “next generation” of the British-Bangladeshi diaspora involved in the lucrative British curry industry at a programme called “Catering Circle“, organised by Channel S.

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At the Channel S programme “Catering Circle” with BBC Asian Network presenter Nadia Ali and an audience of over 1000 guests

Since then, I have been a regular invited panel guest at Channel S to voice my concerns and again to give my perspective on how to attract the younger generation.

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Speaking about my career & attracting a new generation of restaurateurs at ‘Catering Circle’ in August 2016
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Again talking about how to attract the new generation of restaurateurs in November 2016

In March, North Hertfordshire District Council paid a surprise visit to our premises to carry out an inspection and review our management. Royston Tandoori was awarded the full five stars in the ‘Scores on the Doors’ scheme, recognising food hygiene, cleanliness and confidence in management!

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I trekked to the depths of East London in May, upon invitation from Ibrahim Rahman, for an interview at London Bangla TV. We discussed my career, the curry industry and the hot topic of attracting the new generation of British-Bangladeshi restaurateurs.

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Sharing a joke with Ibrahim Rahman on the Youth Corner Show at LB24 in May 2016

As we leaped into a scorching hot summer, whilst fasting in Ramadan, I ran the 5km ‘Royston in Blue‘ fun run in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. We were the headline sponsor at this event, with our logo on the race numbers.

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With Lucy Mackintosh, Yvonne Mackintosh and Lisa Thompson of Teenage Cancer Trust after the 5km run in June 2016

 

We catered for thousands of Royston festival goers at the Ad Hoc Summer Soul event in July 2016.

In mid-July, Executive Chef Habibur Rahman-Shamim & I travelled to the House of Commons for the prestigious ‘Tiffin Cup‘, which is a parliamentary curry contest where MPs nominate the Best South Asian Restaurant in their constituency to compete against each other at the Commons. Sir Oliver Heald QC MP nominated Royston Tandoori as the ‘Best South Asian Restaurant in North East Hertfordshire‘ and followed by a ‘Highly Commended‘ award at the Palace of Westminster.

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At the Palace of Westminster with Sir Oliver Heald & Habibur Rahman-Shamim (Executive Chef) in July 2016

The next day I flew to Ibiza for a 10 day break.

In October, we were surprised and pleasantly shocked as Royston Tandoori received ‘Best Eatery in Royston & District‘ at the Royston Business Awards which was organised by Royston & District Chamber of Commerce. There were over a hundred qualifying restaurants & takeaways in the SG8 area, and 4 were finally shortlisted. The evening was very well organised and enjoyed by all; it was even greater to meet one of my favourite soap stars again (Gillian Taylforth)!

November 2016 was a successful and memorable month, I hosted Royston’s first ever Bollywood Dinner & Dance to raise funds for the Royston Town Mayor’s Community Trust Fund. We entertained just under 100 guests at the Town Hall and raised a staggering £750+ for local charities and organisations.

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With the Mayor of Royston Cllr Sarah Dingley and the gorgeous dancers at our inaugural Bollywood Dinner & Dance

To date, my proudest accolade was achieved at the British Curry Awards 2016. Royston Tandoori was shortlisted amongst only 9 takeaways across the nation and went one further by being in the ‘final five’ finalists in the running for the top title of ‘Best Delivery Restaurant/Takeaway’; unfortunately we missed out on the award to a brilliant restaurant in Brighton.

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With Shampan Group and our certificates

 

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With the British Curry Awards founder Enam Ali MBE (left) and my friend Abul Hyat Nurujjaman of Taj Accountants (right)

There is no doubt that 2016 has been our most successful year. Today, as a born and bred Roystonian, I am proud to achieve this standard and reach this height nationally. We could not have done this without the support of our thousand or so regular patrons, whom to we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude for your nominations in the awards, votes and continued custom.

Wishing you all the best for the year ahead – thank you ROYSTON, I promise to keep giving back to you!

SAFWAAN CHOUDHURY
Managing Director