FINAL preparations are underway at a North East restaurant to wow curry loving MPs in a national cooking competition held at the House of Commons.
Celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott will be just one of the judges that Corbridge-based, The Valley, will have to impress when it takes part in the prestigious grand final of the Tiffin Cup on June 27.
The award-winning restaurant is famed for its Passage to India train service whereby diners board a train at Newcastle or Carlisle Station and waiters in traditional costume serve drinks and take pre-orders which they phone ahead to the kitchen.
The Valley – built on the North platform of Corbridge station – is one of only 13 in the country to get through to the final.
Its owner, Daraz Aziz, said they had won the regional final of the Tiffin Cup based on location, food, ambience, décor, and service having been visited by mystery diners. He said his head chef was working on two special dishes for the grand final.
“We’re delighted that we were nominated, and have become one of the finalists. It’s an honour simply to take part in this prestigious competition, where we can cook and present our fabulous dishes to celebrity guests and MPs,” he said.
“It’s wonderful that MPs are doing something like this as well as politics. It brings a great sense of pride to everyone at The Valley as well as the region.”
The competition is organised by the Tiffin Club, a group of MPs who love curry, with the aim of finding the best South East Asian restaurant in the UK.
Local MPs vote for the best restaurants in constituencies before one restaurant from every region is chosen to take part in the grand cook-off.
The Valley was nominated for the annual competition by Hexham MP Guy Opperman.
Mr Opperman said: “When I last ate there the food was outstanding. It is a very well run restaurant which is popular with local people and justifiably so.
“The Valley is a big community employer and I welcome the chance for local Northumberland chefs to show London how South Asian cuisine is done.”
Daraz will be taking his head chef Mohammed Iqbal Hussein, 39, with him who has worked for The Valley since 2005.
The grand final will take place at Bellamy’s Restaurant in the House of Commons on Wed June 27. It will be judged by MPs and guest celebrities with the proceeds going to charity.