ARON Awards 2019: Putting Pride Back Into The Industry

This week, distinguished winners of the ARON Awards 2019 were celebrated at Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa.

Hosted by the industry’s “game-changing” Asian Restaurant Owners Network (ARON), the night was a renowned success as #GenuineMerit took centre stage.

Winners were assessed through a stringent, objective judging process; demonstrating excellence in their specialised field. As well as the initial nominations, finalists were assessed through comprehensive interviews, judge’s on-site assessment, online digital footprints, nominee’s supporting evidence, customer and industry feedback, as well as a ‘business health check’.

With Rehan Uddin, Managing Director of ARON and Jack Dart, the voice of youth politics, presenting the exclusive event; guests were both entertained and inspired throughout the evening through a mixture of observational humour rarely touched on in the industry, whilst instilling the importance of progression and pride, “Asian hospitality has been crying out for a voice for change, finally we have a platform that meets the needs and ARON Awards 2wants of all those connected – raising the standard and challenging the status quo; installing a sense of multicultural pride for both restaurateurs and customers alike.”

The multimedia, interactive event delivered on their promise for equality; introducing a world title belt in a #crownyourqueen segment to celebrate the backbone of the industry; women, “the true unsung champions!” and VIP guest 14-year old Joshua Martin delivered an inspiring speech for industry youth; awarded the first ARON Prodigy Junior Chef jacket by his “hero” Anwar Miah.

Guests were blARON Awardsown away with exclusive content “never seen before” at such an event. The first of its kind, industry music video has lit up social media. ‘ARON The Way Up’, a rap parody showcases a much-needed, new look for the sector that’s shattering stereotypes.

The much-anticipated premiere of ARON’s reality TV cooking competition ‘Chilli Chilli Bang Bang’ exceeded guest’s expectations in a hilarious, unscripted fly on the wall show, with the winning team – Razna Ali and Nurun Alam revealed live on stage.

Utilising social media throughout the evening to engage with their audience – business consultant Dawn Crossingham of D52 Ltd tweeted “Wow. @PlanetARON Rehan you are truly an inspiration. An incredible night … You deserve the accolade for #Genuinemerit for challenging and changing the Asian Hospitality sector. Congratulations.”

ARON The Way Up is due for release later this month.

ARON Awards 2019: Winners and Finalists

Environmental Award

WINNER: Urmi Shah – Blue Lotus Inspirations, London

Finalist: Cinnamon Spice, Ashford – Ash Miah

Blue Lotus Inspirations environmental ethos is setting a much-needed example to the industry with exceptional recycling and zero-waste policies. Urmi Shah’s eco-friendly processes and regular community initiatives (creating dishes from surplus supermarket food waste for free) are inspiring, especially with her motivational drive to find new and improved ways to reduce the industry’s environmental impact.

ARON Awards 1Best Takeaway Award

WINNER: Deepak Lall – Chilli Tuk Tuk, North Finchley

Finalist: Rogan Joshs Indian Takeaway, Cheltenham – Zoshuya Krori

Finalist: Thakers, Hounslow – Neel Thaker

Chilli Tuk Tuk demonstrated the most unique menu with customised dishes throughout, incredible branding, and forward-thinking results. Owners Deepak and Amisha Lall’s extensive product development knows no bounds! Their drive and passion to be creative and innovative is outstanding.

Best Concept Award

WINNER: Jirarat Hayward – Jean’s Bistro, Bristol

Finalist: Blue Lotus Inspirations, London – Urmi Shah

Finalist: Thakers, Hounslow – Neel Thaker

Jirarat Hayward has created a distinctive experience with Jean’s Bistro; serving authentic Thai food elevated for the restaurant environment, whilst investing in a family community. The concept in itself is a journey through Thailand – incorporating an extensive selection of popular homemade cake and desserts.

Female Rising Star Award (under 28s)

WINNER: Faye De Souza – Compass Group UK & Ireland

Finalist: Nasima Alam – Lowestoft Tandoori, Lowestoft

At the young age of 23, Faye De Souza is at an exceptional level. Faye’s position with Compass Group UK pushes her to maintain positions of precision and execution which is clearly evident in her work. Already creating exceptional dishes, Faye’s raw talent signifies exciting changes for the industry’s future – one look at her Instagram page tells an incredible story!

Male Rising Star Award (under 28s)

WINNER: Thanbir Moktadir – Horsham Tandoori, Horsham

Finalist: Minhaz Miah – Maharani Restaurant, Ipswich

Already an entrepreneur across several sectors, Thanbir Moktadir motivation is infectious! Not only running Horsham Tandoori but a letting agency, Airbnb accounts, and managing a corporate company. These attributes all add up to a gentleman who is focused, creative and incredibly innovative.

Best Marketing Award

WINNER: Neel Thaker – Thakers, Hounslow

Finalist: Horsham Tandoori, Horsham – Thanbir Moktadir

Finalist: Rivaaz, Lymington – Shahin Malek

Thakers are distinctive. Not only is their unique selling point catering to a growing vegetarian and vegan market, they are a hub for the community. As with any hub, social media works hand in hand and must be of an interactive nature – Thakers creative license for content does not disappoint!

Female Entrepreneur Of The Year Award

WINNER: Usha James – The Stag Hunt Inn, Truro

Finalist: Yasmin Malik – Meals By Malik, Milton Keynes

Finalist: Urmi Shah – Blue Lotus Inspirations, London

Admittedly pushed into cooking at The Stag Hunt Inn, Usha James is incredibly humble with her achievements. Home cooking being the forte, Usha’s unique take on the menu was a calculated risk that paid off with dividends as customers moved away from the Balti houses towards authentic Indian cuisine. Usha’s extensive community work whilst maintaining a small team and paying careful attention to financial figures, has seen her succeed during the country’s most difficult economic periods.

Male Entrepreneur Of The Year Award

WINNER: Shahin Malek – Rivaaz, Lymington

Finalist: Steven Lee – Hakkaland, Harrow On The Hill

Finalist: Sharif Uddin – Kushi Restaurants, Canvey, Romford & Thurrock

As an innovative entrepreneur, Shahin Malek hones in on customised dishes, branding and personal vision, whilst life coaching his staff, and integrating the brand philosophy of Rivaaz. Coming from a corporate sales background, Shahin’s strategies are successfully focused on long-term objectives.

Most Inspirational Award

WINNER: Anwar Miah – Chef & Restaurant Consultancy, Bedford

Finalist: Gulu Anand – The Brilliant Restaurant, Southall

Finalist: Asma Khan – Darjeeling Express, Carnaby

Anwar Miah received the most nominations from around the UK from both within the industry and the general public.  Anwar has been cited as a “life guru”, changing the thought processes applied to food creativity and extending to daily life.  Going above and beyond, Anwar is continuously taking time out to help those who are less fortunate and support individuals who can achieve more with a helping hand.

M.O.I.C. (Michelangelo Of Indian Cooking) Award

WINNER: Anwar Miah – Chef & Restaurant Consultancy, Bedford

Finalist: Faye De Souza – Compass Group UK & Ireland

Finalist: Naz Islam – Saffron, Northampton

Anwar Miah displays emphatic vision when plating a dish; exploring abstract as inspiration. Constantly taking notes and recordings to enhance his research into creative food innovation. Anwar’s philosophy stems from architecture, dimensions, flow, colours, textures, tastes, historical backgrounds and scientific processes. He is on a continuous journey; searching for culinary perfection.

Big Boss Award

WINNER: Iqbal Khan, London

Iqbal Khan is an international humanitarian, aiding those who are facing extreme hardships. Actively engaged on the frontline in Bangladesh with the Rohingya refugees, supporting Unite4Humanity in Gambia, and collecting much needed supplies for war torn Yemen. In his local community, Iqbal’s campaign #TakeBackTheBlock supports rehabilitation in drug use, gang culture and youth support.

ARON Member Of The Year Award

WINNER: Mo Harlow, Anokha Beats, Essex

Mo Harlow has given his free time and expertise to the network, both in front and behind the scenes. Going the extra mile in creating the official music video soundtrack to ‘ARON The Way Up’, Mo is inspiring the next generation.

Asian Tech Style Award

WINNER: Shaish Alam, Yasmin’s Indian Restaurant, Wales

Shaish Alam, star of BBC Gardener’s World, is utilising acres of land to is grow produce for his restaurant. Not only is Shaish an incredible chef, he is a professional kick boxer and footballer – being so diverse in his nature, he had an incredible following. Shaish makes his own rules and sets high standards – proving you can create your own supply chain; living by example.