Food and Drink awards 2008

PUBLISHED: 12:11 05 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:25 20 February 2013

Toyah Willcox

Toyah Willcox

Monrusha Krori of Curry Corner - winner of The Restaurant of the Year Award

Tell us about your restaurant.

We are a small family-run Bangladeshi restaurant specialising in serving fine Bangladeshi food, delicious wine and delivering friendly and personalised service. Our restaurant was opened by my parents who are also the chef-patrons - Shamsul and Saleha Krori - over three decades ago in 1977. From that day to the present they have done all the cooking themselves. We do not believe in importing chefs from overseas as we believe in 'home-grown and local' and this applies to our produce, staff and menu innovation. Dad is now nearly 60 and never misses a service. Mum was the first Bangladeshi female chef patron, I am the only lawyer I know involved hands-on in redesigning the restaurant and scouring the Cotswold for local produce, and my brother Joshua and sister Fatiha (around her studies) personally attend to our guests. Our restaurant is a part of our home.

Why do you think you won the award?

We were up against two extremely tough competitors. I guess our consistently high standards, passion for cooking fine Bangladeshi food and commitment to local organic produce shined through.

For over 30 years, people from throughout the Cotswolds and beyond have travelled to eat with us despite our unassuming location. After all, it is no different for Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck or Gordon Ramsay - if the food is considered worthy, then people will travel, and it keeps us on our toes because we do not rely on people passing by.

What made you different to the other nominees?

We are different to most restaurants. Thirty years is a long time to work on your craft; we cook from our heart and our menu is innovative while the roots are staunchly based on classic Bangladeshi home cooking.

There is not another restaurant in Britain to our knowledge that focuses on cooking real Bangladeshi home-cooked food using fresh produce from throughout Britain, particularly from the Cotswolds.

It is rather unique to find a 60-year-old chef patron and a lawyer who grows her own herbs (that's me) to use in the cooking, that is as fresh as it could possibly be. And coming from an ex-urbanite who had never grown anything in her life - not too shabby at all! We grind our own spices; hand pound our artisan bread; make our own chutneys and churn our own homemade Bangladeshi ice cream made from the creamiest Cotswold fresh cream.

We think out of the box. Over 25 years ago we got rid of the infamous flock wallpaper. Over 20 years ago we introduced dishes inspired dishes using classic French and English flavour, such as garlic and orange duck and rabbit Masala; relatively new Indian restaurants in London claim to have started fusion cooking only a few years ago.

Last year, against massive adversity, we overhauled our restaurant and introduced an innovative Travel India menu - a rip-roaring culinary journey through the sub-continent which includes dishes such as homestyle chicken and gem spice curry and lamb with apricots. We spent nearly a million pounds refurbishing the restaurant, and opened the first luxury lounge bar in an Indian restaurant in the Cotswolds where our guests can relax and enjoy premium wine and cocktails.

What will winning the award mean to your business?

It is a true honour and recognition for the hard work we put in, and we are already planning on improving things further.

I suppose more people have perhaps just found out about us. For 30 years we have inadvertently kept a bit of a low profile - I guess the secret is well and truly out now!

What plans do you have for the next year?

Truth be known, we have only just begun. We are already planning a fantastic Christmas menu with a real edge - as far from the chicken vindaloo that you ordinarily expect in an Indian restaurant. We are extending our wine list, sourcing some wonderful boutique vintages; developing a range of exclusive cocktails and foraging the Cotswolds for new produce finds. And, well, the rest will unfold soon. We hope that people in the Cotswolds will be proud to claim that one of the best restaurants in Britain is right here in the Cotswolds.

And were there any hangovers the following morning?

I think if we were drinkers all of us would have had a hangover for the rest of the week because we were so elated. But in our family tradition there was a lot of eating instead. We've had a small celebration party and all our well-wishers were very merry on our behalf on the champagne cocktail I had created that night!

This award is dedicated to all our fantastic suppliers, including our farmers who work tirelessly to produce world-class produce, helping us to put real food on our plates, and also to the people who have eaten with us for the last 30 years, including those who waited in the rain, snow and sleet to collect food during our closure - you can't beat that for loyalty.

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