A Turkish restaurant in Edinburgh has been crowned the ‘Best Kebab House in Scotland’ at a national awards ceremony in London.
Verdo Turkish BBQ on Newington Road beat leading contenders from the around Scotland to take the crown, with Dino Pizza & Kebab in Forfar also being highly recommended by the awards judges.
Kebab businesses from around England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales battled to win in 16 categories from Best Newcomer to Best Fine Dining for the sixth annual awards held in London on Monday night (12 March).
This year, members of the public nominated over 5,000 of their favourite kebab shops, with the chosen nominees whittled down by a public voting process to a shortlist of just 153, with bonus points given for nominations from MPs, MSPs and local councillors.
Organisers added that hygiene, online satisfaction ratings and the number of #BritishKebabAwards tweets of support that a contender got were also taken into account.
The winners were revealed after a final round of judging by the British Kebab Awards judges including former Tory chairwoman Baroness Warsi, Children’s and Families’ Minister Nadhim Zahawi, Shadow Economic Secretary Jonathan Reynolds, Amjad Bashir MEP and Heart Radio presenter Lucy Horobin, who co-hosted the event with Capital Radio newsreader Tim John.
Chef of the year 2018, Mazlum Demir, won Chef of the Year for the second year in a row for his work at the mangal at Skewd Kitchen in Barnet, seeing off stiff competition from talented chef Besnik Hajdari, of Javits Takeaway in Edinburgh, who won Best Kebab in Scotland in 2015.
Meanwhile Resul Atalay and his twin sons, Jason and Josh, held on to the Best Kebab Van title for Atalay’s Kebab Van in Thame, Oxfordshire.
The winners were revealed in front of the 1,200 guests including more than 100 MPs and Lords who attended the British Kebab Awards ceremony at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in central London.
British Kebab Awards founder, Ibrahim Dogus, said: “The kebab is on the march to be Britain’s national dish and the excitement around this event grows every year.
“Some of the kebabs being produced in the top flight are incredible. This cuisine is coming of age in Britain with interesting twists and, at its heart, good ingredients cooked well.
“British foodies are showing their appreciation for this ancient style of cooking and competition is getting extremely hot. For two of the finalists to retain their titles two years in a row is no mean feat and I know their competitors will be even more determined to unseat them next year.”
Graham Corfield, UK managing director of awards sponsor Just Eat, said: “I would like to congratulate all of the nominees and winners at the British Kebab Awards 2018.
“These small, independent businesses make a significant contribution to the economy and offer fantastic food and service to their local community. With thousands of kebab restaurants on the Just Eat platform, it’s right we champion the hard work, passion and drive demonstrated by restaurant owners and their staff in making this a thriving industry.”
The team behind the awards were keen to point out the contribution made by the kebab industry to the British economy; worth more than £2.8 billion a year, it supports around 200,000 jobs across restaurants, suppliers and the food industry.
This year’s awards raised money for the bone and soft tissue cancer charity Sarcoma UK.
Every day, more than 1.3m kebabs are sold across Britain. The UK’s first kebab shop, Istanbul Restaurant in Soho, opened during the Second World War and pictures of it feature in the Imperial War Museum.
However it was not until 1966 that the famous doner kebab - cooked on a vertical spit - first appeared with the opening of the Hodja Nasreddin Kebab House by Çetin Bukey and Konjay Hüseyin in North London’s Newington Green.
There are now over 20,000 kebab outlets in the UK selling around 2,500 tonnes of lamb and chicken doner a week.
Interest has been so high over the last six years that the British Kebab Awards organisers will be launching the first National Kebab Week in 2019, set for February 11-17.
• A full list of the winners can be viewed here.
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