Ex-doctor seeks top chef title

A FORMER Shropshire surgeon who swopped his doctor’s coat for chef’s whites will travel to the UK’s curry capital on Monday in a bid to be crowned Britain’s best.

Dr Lal Haider, the chef-patron of Old Hall Restaurant, a Persian eatery at Dorrington, near Shrewsbury, has been nominated for the prestigious South Asia Curry Chef of the Year Award.

He will join eight other hopefuls at the Bradford International College after securing his place in the final.

Dr Haider will be asked to cook four dishes and he will be judged according to creativity, design and flavour – up against some top UK chefs.

Dr Haider, who has previously reached the final of the South Asia Curry Chef of the Year, has twice won a place in the final of the Shropshire Curry Chef of the Year contest. He said: “There are some amazing curry chefs in the UK and so to win a place in the final is thrilling. I’ve been practicing a number of dishes and will be cooking a range of chicken, fish and vegetable dishes, including a speciality starter called cotlet, which is based on potato and aubergine.”

Dr Haider fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition by becoming a chef, after deciding to leave his career as a consultant. He said: “I always dreamed of being a chef, but I followed a medical career. I reached a point where I decided it was time to follow my heart and cook.

“I’ve had great support from the people of Dorrington, Shrewsbury and further afield during recent years and I’ve no regrets about swopping the hospital for the kitchen.

Enthusiastic

“There are not many people in life who get to do the thing they love for a living, and cooking has always been my passion. I am very enthusiastic about Persian cuisine and it’s been great fun these past few years to bring those flavours to Shropshire.”

The gastronomy of Asia is particularly well represented in Shropshire with numerous restaurants specialising in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani food. However, Dr Haider’s Old Hall Restaurant is the only one to specialise in Persian influenced food.

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