It all started when Askir Ali, owner of SAFA, decided the time had come to create a specialist Asian awards scheme to recognise the contribution made to Ireland’s food scene by hundreds of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian chefs, restaurant workers and managers. Askir Ali was born in Manchester but his food roots are in Bangladesh. He spent five years in Manchester where he trained under a master chef at Assam Gourmet. In 1990, he moved to Northern Ireland where he has worked at some of the top restaurants in Belfast before opening SAFA. He is currently working on an new exciting project that will be launched in late 2017.
A stickler for traditional methods, Askir’s spices are freshly ground – but the presentation and décor are very contemporary.
He founded the Irish Curry Awards because he feels that “Indian restaurants are not recognised in Ireland as they should be, even though they contribute equally to food service in the country”. “Some small organisations do want to recognise us, but at a cost. I want the awards to be free. I have secured funding from suppliers to deliver to Indian kitchens every working day – both large and small. “After expenses, all proceeds will go to charity. These awards are about recognising the best of the best and giving them the credit they deserve.”