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Community News - April/May 23

Community News From Around Our Area

Atherstone Grandfather Selected for International Cook-Off

A grandfather from Atherstone was selected to take part in a prestigious international event following a successful cook-off against talent from around the country.

Najib Ali, from Maya restaurant in Sheepy Road, represented the UK with four other chefs at The International Bangladeshi MasterChef (IBM).

Najib, 51, who was born in Sylhet, Bangladesh, and moved to the UK at the age of six, said, “I love competing as it’s a way to develop and learn how the industry is evolving.

“It’s an opportunity to pass on skills and knowledge to the next generation, as well as learn new styles from up-and-coming chefs.”

The cook-off was held at Northampton College and chefs had to create and make two dishes each within two hours, which were then judged by blind tasting by the Craft Guild of Chefs.

Najib, who was previously crowned winner of the Asian & Oriental Chef Awards following a live cook-off, said, “I like to experiment and combine eastern and western influence - some things work, some things don’t. When it turns out well then it goes onto the menu.”

The judges complimented Najib on his salmon with moilee sauce starter and duck and asparagus main, which combined Asian flavours with Western-style presentation.

The IBM then took part at the Grand Sylhet Hotel in Bangladesh and was attended by South Asia’s finest chefs.

Najib also won a gold medal in the Culinary World Cup as part of a team from UK Curry Connect campaign group, set up to raise awareness of skills shortages in the Asian catering industry.

The team also promoted charity Projects Against Plastic – to reduce single-use plastic in the catering industry – with their showstopper Plastic or Planet.

Maya owner Kamal Miah, who is third generation in the restaurant industry, said, “Najib is a fantastic chef, and it is great that he is getting the recognition that he deserves.

“We consider ourselves lucky to have such talent in our kitchen here at Maya. Najib is continually developing and is an asset and inspiration to our team.”

Maya regularly supports its community and local charities. It supplied food to key workers during the pandemic as part of the Food4NHS project.

The team received an award from the High Sheriff and deputy lord lieutenant of Warwickshire Joe Greenwell.