Published: 14:37, 13 October 2021
| Updated: 15:02, 13 October 2021
A top chef and his family are celebrating after being named the nation's top Indian restaurant.
Jamal Uddin Ahmed, who runs The Shozna in Rochester, was delighted to score the accolade at this year's prestigious Curry Life Awards.
The restaurant has been serving traditional Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine in Maidstone Road for 15 years but this was the first time it had entered this set of awards.
It was voted the nation's best curry restaurant at a glittering event held at London's Royal Lancaster Hotel on Sunday evening.
Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Jamal Ahmed said: "What a great tribute for us to be recognised in this way.
"The past couple of years have been extremely challenging for businesses like ours – and it is marvellous to emerge from such difficult times with such a top award."
He added: "Our success is very much a team effort – and is all about giving our customers the quality of service that they demand and deserve.
"I'd like to thank everyone who has played a part in achieving this top honour."
The Curry Life raised just over £2,000 for the British Asian Trust at this year’s awards ceremony and gala dinner.
The awards celebrate Indian food in the UK and forms part of a wider organisation that arranges the British Curry Festival around the world.
Other guests at the event included television presenter Angela Rippon and former Strictly contestant and journalist Mike Bushell, celebrity chefs Atul Kochhar, Dominic Chapman and Mridula Baljejekar and a host of MPs.
Commenting on the importance of the awards, president of the Confederation of British Industry and chairman of Cobra Beer, Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, said: "Like many business sectors over the past couple of years, the hospitality industry has been through the ringer because of the Covid pandemic.
"It is great to see it not only emerging from this dark period but also leading the way for other business sectors.
"Now that the economy is gathering momentum, it is truly heart-warming and instructive to hear of some of the stories of innovation, and pure hard work, emerging from this year's Curry Life Awards.
"Well done to Curry Life for once again throwing a spotlight onto these examples of best practice and the brilliant people behind them."
Matt Bushby, the UK marketing director for Just Eat, which sponsored the awards added: "We are delighted to play a part in showcasing the hard work and imagination of chefs and owners who continue to improve and impress in producing fantastic, value-for-money and creative cooking.
"Our congratulations go to all of those who have won awards. You fully deserve them for standing out in this excitingly crowded and competitive industry."
Editor of Curry Life Media Group, Syed Belal Ahmed, said: "Over the years we have been staging the awards, we have seen a major stepping up of standards and quality being offered to customers-to the point where several restaurants are in a position to challenge for accolades such as Michelin stars.
"One of the major aims of the awards has always been to highlight best practice going on across the country – so that everyone has the opportunity to learn from the best – and that indeed has always been a driving principle behind Curry Life itself.
"That so many owners have chosen to use their lockdown time to invest in their businesses, and raise standards, is a real credit to the perseverance and ingenuity of all involved."