On Wednesday 9 July, Merton College hosted the final of the local heat of the National Curry Contest, the chosen winner, Mr Binu Raj, Cocum South Indian Restaurant in Raynes Park, will now go on to represent Merton in the London finals.
Mr Raj has been a chef for 10 years, and worked in Kenya until he came to the UK in 1998, the Cocum South Indian Restaurant has been open for eight months. He said of his win:
“I am very happy to have won today, it is the first competition I have entered and am delighted to have won the first year Merton have entered, I am looking forward to the regional final and hope to do well for Merton. All the chefs were of a high standard and competition was tough. At Cocum we serve Kerala Village Cuisine, this method of cooking is different because we use a mixture of sauces that take up to 20 minutes to prepare prior to cooking, giving a very distinct flavour to the dishes.”
Each chef had one hour to produce three dishes, to include one main curry dish, one complimentary side dish, and a bread or rice dish. Entrants were judged on taste, presentation and food hygiene. The judges were extremely impressed with the high quality of hygiene and cooking skills of all entrants.
Mr Raj received a trophy and prize money, which was sponsored by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), the other three finalists also received prize money and certificates.
Judge, and fellow chef, Mr Akbar, from the Bait-ul-Futuh Mosque said of the contest:
“The competition was very close, but Mr Binu Raj, appeared to be the most confident of the four finalists, his preparation and cooking methods were excellent. The dishes were of an exceedingly high standard, each with a unique taste and flavour. A well deserved winner, and I am sure he will do well when he represents the borough at the London finals.”
Fellow judge, Mayor of Merton, Councillor Maxi Martin said:
“The winning chef’s meal was of a very high standard and he was obviously a confident and experienced chef. The paratha bread dish particularly impressed me. However all the other finalists were of an equally high standard and it was very hard for the judges to make a final decision. I wish Mr Binu Raj all the best for when he represents the borough in the regional final in London and I am sure he will do us proud.”
This is the first year Merton has participated in the National Curry Chef Competition. The local competition was open to all registered food businesses within the borough of Merton. The comp