Asian cuisine celebrated as first Irish Curry Awards open for nominations
Ireland's first Asian food awards have been launched to find the best restaurants among the island's 500 curry houses.
The Irish Curry Awards are the brainchild of Belfast-based restaurateur Ali Askir.
He said he was prompted to develop the idea as he felt the time is right to recognise the contribution made to Ireland's food scene by hundreds of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian chefs, restaurant workers and managers.
"Asian food is now as popular and as widespread as the Ulster Fry and Irish stew," said Mr Askir, the owner of SAFA, on Bank Street, Belfast.
"Curry houses employ thousands across Ireland and play a significant role in the local economies of communities everywhere.
"The time has come to formally recognise this contribution and what better way to do this than through the Irish Curry Awards."
The Irish Curry Awards will consist of six categories, including Best Chef, Best Young Chef and Best Restaurant. Nominations can be made at www.irishcurryawards.com.
A quota of votes will then be calculated at the close of entries to create a shortlist of restaurants county by county.
A panel of expert judges will select the winners, who will be announced at a Belfast awards ceremony in October. All profits from the competition will go to the Children's Heartbeat Trust.