Vancouver restaurateurs scrambling for more staff ahead of Times of India Film Awards (with video)


Local Indian restaurateurs are worried they don’t have enough cooks in the kitchen for the flux of tourists coming for the Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA) in April.

“I’m excited for business, but then I can only do so much with the staff I have,” said Jose Madappilly, owner of Burrard Street’s Salam Bombay.

Madappilly has only been able to find four Indian cooks — ideally he needs 12.

“I’m short of people, so I’m shrinking my operation — the hours and I don’t do much catering,” he said.

He’s also had to put off plans to open another restaurant.

“I can’t run this outlet in full capacity, then I cannot (open a second restaurant),” he said.

And with thousands of Indian tourists expected this spring it will only be more difficult, because they’ll be looking for “good Indian food,” since many of them — like Jains — have strict diet restrictions.

“I’ll have more (customers) than I can handle,” said Madappilly.

Salam Bombay restaurant owner Jose Madappilly

Salam Bombay restaurant owner Jose Madappilly works in the kitchen due to a shortage of Indian cooks. Ward Perrin/PNG

Kamal Mroke, owner of Davie Street’s India Bistro is struggling, too — but he still hopes to open a second outlet to coincide with the awards. His upcoming restaurant, Bollywood Lounge, is slated to open in March on Denman Street and play off the hype — he’s decked out the inside with paintings of the Bollywood starlets coming to Vancouver.

But already short on cooks at India Bistro, Mroke is yet to find any for Bollywood Lounge.

“When I open the first week I have to work myself in the restaurant and in the kitchen,” he said. “I’m really worried … I have no staff.”

“It’s really hard to find a good cook over here.”

Indian restaurants have been struggling long before TOIFA, though.

“There’s a shortage of cooks here,” said Madappilly.

Locally trained Indian chefs are hard to find — and specific training is needed.

Laura Ballance

Laura Ballance’s firm is doing the PR for the Times of India Film Awards. Submitted photo

“It’s understanding the spices, the uses, how to use them the right way, the cooking procedures, the marination, the way they make breads,” said Madappilly.

He and Mroke often go to India to scout chefs and have them apply for temporary visas — but they’re usually denied. They don’t meet Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s requirements because of their financial assets and lack of travel history.

“Chefs hardly make around 20,000 to 25,000 rupees — which comes to $700,” said Mroke. “A guy working (and) feeding his family — making 25,000 rupees … how can he save the money?”

“If he’s making that you should consider his job … send somebody to investigate.”

“If they were financially sound they wouldn’t be coming here to Canada,” added Madappilly. “(So) if you put that as criteria, then you can’t hire anybody.”

But as the restaurateurs worry, some businesses seem to be reaping the benefits of TOIFA — like Laura Ballance Media Group, who’s been hired by the Times of India to do all of the North American media relations.

“There’s so many exciting aspects to it — it’s a huge thrill for us,” said Ballance. “We really see this as something that will go down in our company history.”

This will be another career highlight for them, alongside hosting the media centre for the 2010 Olympics.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the best of B.C. to the business community and the population of India … (and) there’s a whole lot of people that will be seeing (B.C.) with fresh eyes,” she said. “That’s a responsibility as a B.C. firm that we hold very close.”

Charles Gauthier, executive director of The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, believes local businesses have enough tourism experience to keep up this April.

Charles Gauthier

Charles Gauthier, executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, says the local business community has already experienced the Winter Olympics. Jason Payne/PNG

“I don’t think it’s going to be a challenge for our restaurants to handle it — we have done the Winter Olympics,” he said. “Our restaurants and our retailers and our business community are able to react quite quickly and ramp up to (the awards)… (and) a lot of our businesses have really built up good bench strength.”

While the local Indian restaurants are certainly excited for the booming business opportunities, they just wish the government would invest locally first.

“The Canadian government is paying so much money to (TOIFA) to come over here, but they’re not helping us over here locally,” said Mroke. “They’re just feeding someone else, making the money and they aren’t even thinking about what the locals are going to do.”

Tags: , ,


The Enver Creek Robotics Club prepares for a recent competition. The club is in Anaheim this week competing at the worlds. Submitted photo via Surrey Now.

Surrey robotics team off to the world championships

KATYA SLEPIAN SURREY NOW SURREY — It’s a long way from a club in Surrey to the world robotics championships but having already gotten there…
Continue Reading »


Community outraged over ‘racist’ poster making rounds in Brampton

VANCOUVER DESI Members of the Brampton community have taken to Twitter to express their outrage over a crude and “racist” poster filtering through the city….
Continue Reading »


Surrey Six trial: Ex-gang leader Michael Le fails to get ban on his name and names of Triads for cross-examination

KEITH FRASER VANCOUVER DESI Former Red Scorpions gang leader Michael Le, arguing that there were threats against his life, has lost a bid to have…
Continue Reading »


Kenney acts amid temporary foreign workers scandal

By Lee-Anne Goodman THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Amid a roar of criticism, Employment Minister Jason Kenney took action Thursday against the government’s scandal-ridden temporary…
Continue Reading »

Kenney acts amid temporary foreign workers scandal

By Lee-Anne Goodman THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Employment Minister Jason Kenney took action on Thursday against the government’s scandal-ridden temporary foreign worker program, banning…
Continue Reading »

Kenney acts amid temporary foreign workers scandal

By Lee-Anne Goodman THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Employment Minister Jason Kenney took action on Thursday against the government’s scandal-ridden temporary foreign worker program, banning…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

NRI diaspora

Bride dumps addict NRI groom on wedding day

VANCOUVER DESI In Jalandhar, a  city dominated by NRIs, a woman dumped her newly wedded NRI husband after becoming suspicious that he was a drug…
Continue Reading »

Justin Bieber

Narendra Modi gets more ‘NO’ votes than Justin Bieber in TIME poll

IANS New Delhi – BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had many more “NO” votes than Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber and polled far fewer…
Continue Reading »


British tourist to be deported from Sri Lanka for sporting a Buddha tattoo

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities will deport a British tourist for having an image of Buddha tattooed on her arm,…
Continue Reading »


Indian student granted asylum in Australia because he’s gay

IANS Sydney – A gay Indian student, who fled his country to escape his oppressive family and an arranged marriage, has been granted refugee status…
Continue Reading »

Desi Dad

Single dad smuggles daughter in suitcase from Morocco to Spain (w/video, photos)

CEN AGENCY A Moroccan dad who tried to smuggle his daughter into Spain by hiding her in a suitcase so that she could have a…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood Latest


Indo-Canadian film Siddharth wins Best Film at Beijing International Film Festival

HINDUSTAN TIMES An Indo-Canadian film project, Siddharth, won the best film award at the 4th Beijing International Film Festival (BIFF), ahead of favourite, China’s martial…
Continue Reading »


Gallery: Bollywood stars keep their date with the ballot box

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood stars Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and hubby Abhishek Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor were among a…
Continue Reading »

Film Review

Kaanchi: Epic tale of women’s empowerment (w/trailer)

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Kaanchi”; Cast: Mishti, Kartik Aaryan, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Mithun Chakraborty, Rishi Kapoor; Directed by Subhash Ghai; Rating: **** Subhash Ghai…
Continue Reading »