ONE of Woking’s longest established fast food eateries, The Istanbul Grill in The Broadway, has been nominated for the Best Kebab Shop in the South-East category in the prestigious British Kebab Awards.
Nominations in 10 categories are now being assessed for a shortlist, and the winners will be announced at a high profile awards event to be held in London on March 12.
Owned and run by Nusret Kandemir, who left a banking career in Turkey to emigrate to Britain over 30 years ago, the well-known Turkish cuisine establishment in The Broadway is one of Woking’s favourite food outlets – especially noted for the excellence of its kebabs.
The Istanbul Grill was formerly known as Diamond Kebab from 1992 to 2013, and before that as the Woking Kebab House from 1986 to 1992. Nusret has cooked food there every day for more than 30 years.
“Nusret has pretty much devoted his life to the business,” said his son Umut. “He has seen generations of people pass through his shop – both customers and staff. This year he has turned into a state pensioner and his nomination for the British Kebab Awards is a happy and well deserved coincidence.”
“During those 30 years, my father has seen many fast food outlets come and go,” said Umut. “He was here long before McDonald’s and KFC arrived and was the town’s only fried chicken fast food outlet, although KFC’s arrival forced him to remove chicken from the menu.”
“Quite a few celebrities have availed themselves of Nusret’s Turkish cuisine over the years,” added Umut. “Although my father does not follow mainstream media and doesn’t always recognise a famous face.”
The British Kebab Awards, founded by the Centre for Turkey Studies, aims to illuminate this important industry, and to recognise the cultural and economic contributions that the industry’s various restaurants, suppliers and workers make to the UK.
“The British Kebab Awards honour the dedication, hard work and commitment of individuals in the kebab industry who have helped the growing passion for kebabs spread throughout the UK,” said Umut. “It is thanks to them that the kebab industry is thriving today.”
Kebabs have become a Great British institution. The sector is now big business, with an estimated 1.3 million kebabs sold every day in the UK. Over 20,000 kebab outlets in the UK sell around 2,500 tonnes of lamb and chicken doner kebabs a week. There are also around 200 doner kebab manufacturers in the UK, with a turnover in excess of £750 million.