A London-based chef was this week voted Britain’s Best Takeaway Chef at the British Takeaway Awards (BTAs), run in association with Just Eat.
Osamu Mizuno is the head chef of East London-based Japanese-Latin fusion delivery restaurant, Sugoi JPN. He was named Best Takeaway Chef in Britain after wowing the judges in a MasterChef-style cook-off in which he served ‘nori tacos’ – crispy seaweed taco shells covered in light airy tempura batter filled with fusion flavours such as tuna and salmon sashimi, pico de gallo (tomatoes, coriander, red onion, lemon juice), sushi rice, sesame seeds and kimchee sauce.
Mizuno was presented with the award at a glamorous event held at The Savoy hotel. It was hosted by comedian and TV presenter Jimmy Carr and attended by a line-up of famous faces including ‘I’m a Celebrity’ finalist Roman Kemp, fellow contestant James Haskell and wife Chloe Madeley, singer Louise Redknapp, and TOWIE star and Celebrity X Factor winner Megan McKenna. Judges including Ainsley Harriott and former Dragons’ Den investor Sarah Willingham also joined the star-studded ceremony.
The awards, now in their fifth year, recognise the best takeaways in each UK region, alongside crowning the Best Takeaway Chef, Best Takeaway Delivery Driver and the Game Changer delivery restaurant – an award which recognises a business that is pushing the boundaries and driving innovation in the industry.
Wiltshire-based Mexican eatery, Nacho Cheese was named Best Takeaway in Britain. The small business impressed judges with their great food, high mystery shopper score and measures taken to cater to customers’ ever-evolving dietary needs. Owner Lorraine Priestly has Coeliac disease and has led the way in offering gluten-free menu items, she’s also involved in projects working with Coeliac UK to help ensure other restaurants can improve their gluten-free offering. In addition, Nacho Cheese offers vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free dishes, and the packaging used is compostable and biodegradable.
Lorraine Priestley, owner of Nacho Cheese, said: “We are so excited to have won Best Takeaway in Britain! It is so important to us to offer exceptional service and food, as well as catering to customers’ ever-evolving dietary needs, and so to have been recognised for this is amazing! We would like to say a huge thank you to our staff for their hard work, as well as our loyal customers, as we couldn’t have got here without them. We are so pleased and can’t wait to continue to have a positive impact on the takeaway industry.”
Leicester-based Chris’ Fish N Chips scooped the Game Changer award for their commitment to sustainability. The takeaway uses alternatives to palm oil, zero plastic packaging and is carrying out more deliveries on bicycle to save on emissions. Having identified a growing demand for healthier options, Chris’ Fish N Chips now list calories for each menu item and have signposted dishes that are less than 400 calories and under 600 calories, to encourage more informed healthier choices.
Andrew Kenny, UK managing director of Just Eat, said: “We are so proud to support the British Takeaway Awards for the fifth year. It’s a fantastic opportunity to recognise the dedication and hard work that goes on behind the scenes, and more importantly, celebrate the heroes of our high streets who bring the nation the food they love.
“From the independent small business owners who inspire their teams to strive for better, chefs who continually innovate their menus, and delivery drivers who go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service – the food delivery industry is full of unsung heroes. It’s only right that they have their moment in the spotlight.”
British Takeaway Award winners are selected by a judging panel following a rigorous process comprising a public vote, written submission, and mystery shopping. Category winners each receive a £1,000 cash prize and free sign up to food delivery service Just Eat, while the overall winner gets a further £5,000.
The full judging panel for the British Takeaway Awards was:
Ainsley Harriott (celebrity chef, TV star and best-selling author); Graham Corfield (chief operating officer of Just Eat); James Hacon (restaurant marketer and industry innovator); Sarah Willingham (businesswoman, investor and former star of BBC2’s Dragons’ Den); and Ibrahim Dogus (chair of the British Takeaway Campaign).
Best Takeaway in Central London: Chilli Tuk Tuk, Woodhouse Road, Finchley.
Best Takeaway in Greater London: The Brothers Fish Bar, Gravesend (I reckon that’s Kent!).