Gastropod

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Indy Lifestyle Online
GARY RHODES may have been getting a bad press on some television pages as he races around the country and our screens championing British food in Rhodes around Britain (BBC2, Tuesdays). But 'Spike', as we call him chez Gastropod in honour of his haircut, is undeterred.

His next project, in partnership with Joseph Levin, proprietor of the Greenhouse restaurant, Mayfair, London, will be to act as a consultant to the Review restaurant at the Royal Festival Hall. .

After several months of negotiation, Mr Levin is on the verge of signing a contract to take over the management of the Review, which hitherto has been run by contract caterers. He hopes to transform the rather impressive room, which seats 200, into a great British brasserie. If all goes according to plan, the new-look Review should reopen in October.

Elsewhere on the London restaurant scene, the first purchase by the cash-rich Groupe Chez Gerard, recently launched on the stock market, is Scott's, the distinguished fish restaurant in Mount Street. But there are no plans to convert this clubby bastion into another Cafe Fish, a chain also run by the group.

IT IS NO secret that nearly all the Indian restaurants in Britain are owned, managed and staffed by Bangladeshis. And it should be no surprise that the Bangladesh Caterers' Association, which claims to speak for 10,000 restaurants employing more than 60,000 Bengalis and with an annual turnover of pounds 1.5bn, has been in existence even longer than the state of Bangladesh itself.

Since it was formed 35 years ago, when it was called the Pakistan Caterers' Association, it has kept a fairly low profile - and so has authentic Bangladeshi cuisine. But last week saw both being promoted vigorously with an event at the House of Commons.

An impressive formal display of Bangladeshi dishes was set up on College Green, before the assembled company repaired to the Members' Dining Room, where a succession of MPs made speeches declaring their fondness for spicy food.

Plans were announced for a Bangladesh Caterers' Institute to train staff and promote the industry; a Bangladesh Caterers' Cash & Carry Project is already ensuring a supply of good quality ingredients.

Such momentous developments will hardly affect the London Festival of Bangladesh at Spitalfields next weekend, when the local community will be celebrating its traditional culture. Stalls will be selling food, and dozens of performers have been flown in to put on the first performance in the West of Jatra, the traditional Bangladesh village opera.

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