The Government's cap on the number of non-EU workers entering the UK could have a dire impact on London's standing as a world leader in gastronomic diversity, industry figures have warned.
Home Secretary Theresa May this week announced that the number of skilled migrants allowed into the country would be cut to 24,100 - 5% down on last year - and would be followed by the introduction of a permanent immigration cap in April 2011.
Ranjit Mathrani](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/07/01/334099/Caterersearch.com-100-Namita-and-Camellia-Panjabi-Ranjit.htm), chairman of [Marsala World](http://www.realindianfood.com/), which operates 10 restaurants in London including Veeraswamy, Chutney Mary and Amaya, warned the regulation would make the business vulnerable as 50 of its 500 staff were highly specialised chefs recruited from India.
"We are not like other industries, such as banking and architecture, where the nationality of staff is not relevant. Our chefs need to have grown up within the Indian culture, where the complexities of tastes and smells have been ingrained in them from a very early age," he said.
Mathrani added that plans to expand Marsala World in the UK would now be reviewed. Instead he will consider opening new restaurants in the Middle East or Far East "where sensible visa requirements exist".
Graham Bamford, general manager of the [Royal Garden hotel](http://www.royalgardenhotel.co.uk/), London, home to award-wining Chinese restaurant Min Jiang, where six of the 19 chefs were recruited from China, agreed.
"Chinese cooking takes a long time for an individual to master," he said. "It's very hard to replicate the national skills that those people have been taught by their mothers."
However, Alfred Prasad, executive chef of the Michelin-starred [Tamarind restaurant ](http://www.tamarindrestaurant.com/)in London, said that there was a sufficient number of senior, specialist chefs in the UK and that restaurants now needed to look at a new way of training and recruiting staff.
"It's a sensible decision by the Government which has been a long time coming. Restaurants need to learn to adapt and make the best of the huge amount of talent that is in the UK already," he said.
The [British Hospitality Association ](http://www.bha.org.uk/)will be asking the Government to reconsider its immigration policy in relationship to the number of non-European chefs coming to work in the UK.
[BHA slams Labour plans to block all non-EU chefs >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/04/16/333048/bha-slams-labour-plans-to-block-all-non-eu-chefs.html)
[Tory leader praises UK's Indian restaurants at British Curry Awards >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2009/11/06/330791/tory-leader-praises-uks-indian-restaurants-at-british-curry-awards.html)
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By Janet Harmer
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