AN award-winning curry house owner plans to train budding youngsters looking to master Asian cuisine.

Ibrahim Ali, who runs the popular Usha Restaurant in Burnley, said he hopes to launch a curry college within the next 12 months in the face of a national staff shortage.

At least two restaurants and takeaways are closing across Britain each week because of the crisis, according to the Bangladesh Caterers Association UK.

It warned hundreds more will be forced to close despite their popularity as the first generation of owners and chefs start to retire.

Ibrahim, who was a winner at the British Curry Awards and is Usha’s executive head chef, said: “I agree with this. The staff we have got at the minute are all over 35. The work is very difficult and it’s hard for us to engage with young people.

“I have tried. I have had apprentices, they do four or five weeks and then come up with excuses. We start work at 5pm and finish at 10pm, but the workload between then is heavy.

“We are finding it hard to attract the new generation. It’s hot, there’s shouting, and there are demands.

“I will be taking steps to open a cookery school in the near future, there’s a big niche.

“I have been training deprived children and the urge is there. Nobody is doing it with Asian cooking but I need some help and I will be speaking to people.”

Bangladesh Caterers Association president Pasha Khandaker said: “Politicians all love curries but our industry has never been recognised. Now the industry is in a mess. You simply can’t run restaurants without chefs.”

Ibrahim was left “gobsmacked” when Usha was named the north west’s best Indian restaurant at the Asian Curry Awards in 2011.

The restaurant, which opened its doors in 2002, was judged by a secret diner after being nominated by its customers.

It is not the first time Usha has been recognised by the food industry.

The restaurant had earlier won a Highest Quality Assured Mark by Blackpool and Lancashire Tourist Board.

Talking about the secret to a good curry, Ibrahim said: “To make a good curry you need tender loving care.

When I first started cooking I thought the quicker I got all the ingredients together the better, but I was wrong.

“You need to treat a good curry like you treat a woman, with patience and love.”