Thank you for coming this evening. 

My name is Ibrahim Dogus, and I am the founder of the British Kebab Awards. I am also the Mayor of Lambeth, a restaurateur, and a local councillor. 

When we founded the British Kebab Awards seven years ago, we had a simple vision: an evening where we celebrate the people who make our kebab industry, from the entrepreneurs, investors and owners, to the people wiping tables, washing plates, slicing and grilling kebabs. These are the people who work hard, who build businesses, who provide the food that people want, even late at night,  and deserve a night of celebration.

And we wanted to involve the public in voting for their favourite kebab restaurant or takeaway,  so people can nominate their favourite and share in the success of their local kebab shops. We wanted to mark the social, cultural and economic contribution of the kebab industry to the British way of life.

There’s a kebab restaurant in nearly every community in the UK, and our industry plays a major role in ensuring the strength of the High Street, the economy, and our local communities. We wanted to celebrate the fastest-growing cuisine in the UK – we conducted a survey recently showing that kebabs are on the way to becoming the national dish!  Check out the British Kebab Magazine for details.

I knew seven years ago it was a good idea, but I had no idea how much it would grow, how many people would get engaged, how it would become part of the culinary calendar, attract leading journalists, critics and politicians, and what a huge success it would be.

People love the kebab awards, because people love kebabs!

Some of the key players deserve recognition –  Mustafa Topkaya, Onder Sahan, Altan Kemal. Thank you for your amazing and continuous support. 

And because of the success of the event, we have attracted some of big names as sponsors and supporters.  These guys sponsor us because they care about our industry and they want it to grow and prosper. 

Our main sponsor for the past six years is Just Eat and we are most grateful to Graham Corfield, Ben Carter and all other amazing people at Just Eat. 

I must mention the support of Cobra Beer and Lord Karan Bilimoria and Samson Sohail. 

Quandoo and their managing director Matt Simpkin and his team. 

Sales director of Ben & Jerry’s Jose Louis Dorado and his team. 

Big K and its sales director Mike Theodorou.

Darren Bown and all other friends at Booker and Makro. 

Big names backing a big part of British culinary culture. 

We also raise money for charity each year and tonight we will be supporting Lambeth Welcomes Refugees and Migration Museum UK. Later on in the evening, we will hear from representatives of each charity. 

Thanks to our friends at Just East, we launched the British Takeaway Campaign, bringing together all parts of the industry, including Curry, Chinese, fish and chips, pizza and many other types of takeaway.

I chair the Campaign, designed to remind decision-makers that the industry isn’t just about tasty, convenient fast food – we create apprenticeships and jobs, we grow small businesses into bigger businesses, we keep the lights burning on the high street when everyone else is shut, and we contribute to the Exchequer. 

Independent research carried out for the BTC by economic consultancy the Centre for Economics and Business Research showed takeaway restaurants directly contributed £4.5 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the UK’s GDP in 2016. That rises to £9.4 billion when factoring in the multiplier effect of supply chain and employee spending – equivalent to 0.5% of GDP and more than telecoms, more than advertising and even more than Premier League football.

Maybe that’s why we attract support from leading politicians – Ministers, Shadow Ministers, Councillors, Mayors and trade union leaders.

We lobby about the challenges we face – the rise in food costs, rents, business rates, and the shortage of staff.

And we speak up, loud and clear, for the contribution made by immigrants into the UK. 

We celebrate the contribution to our culture and cuisine, but also the economic contribution – a study at the end of last year showed that migrants from the EU make a net contribution of over £2300 a year more than the average. 

Immigrants work hard, build businesses, serve the community, and we should shout about it from the roof-tops!

Because I know I am amongst friends, I want to share something special for the first time: we are now establishing a new association to champion the kebab industry, defend our interests and ensure our voices are heard loud and clear in Westminster & Whitehall. 

This will be launched as The Kebab Alliance later this year, and it will focus on five areas – the healthy, nutritious benefits of kebabs compared to many other fast foods; to uphold the tradition of skilled kebab making; to promote quality training and standards across the industry; to strengthen the global supply chain for British kebabs, and lastly to advocate appropriate regulation for our industry. There are flyers for the Kebab Alliance on your tables, and I hope you will become involved in our activities. 

Tonight we open nominations for the 8th British Kebab Awards, so I hope you will use your networks, your social media, to get people nominating.

I hope you will take a look at our new website. 

I hope you will commit to coming to the 8th British Kebab Awards in 2020.

I hope you will consider becoming one of our esteemed sponsors, joining some of the biggest names in the industry. 

Please book a table – or two – and do it early to avoid disappointment.

This a fun event, with a serious purpose, and I thank you for your continuing support.

Before I finish let me thank the team here at Madhus, and the people who made tonight happen Niall, Ayla, Ali Haydar, Svetlana. 

Remember you are helping raise money for charities, including Migration Museum and Lambeth Welcomes Refugees and finally, the most important person here tonight, my partner on this journey, my wife Raife.

Thank you all, and have a great evening.