A Bangladeshi-origin curry house owner is helping British expatriates based in France meet their curry craving by flying dishes from his restaurant in the UK across the English Channel to Bourdeaux.
The flight, dubbed “Curry Air,” will deliver popular dishes from Faz Ahmed’s The Akash curry house in Southsea, Portsmouth, at a charge of around 36 euros per head on Saturday.
Curry Air is booked to take off from Lee-on-Solent airfield on the south coast of England with chicken tikka masala, lamb balti, Bengal naga chicken and vegetable paneer korai, alongside rice and naan. The six-seater aircraft is scheduled to land at Bordeaux Saucats airfield in the middle of the region famous for its vineyards, where a 50-strong group of British expats and their French friends will dine in an aircraft hangar.
Faz explained that they had overcome significant obstacles to make the flying takeaway a reality.
“It is an expensive thing to do but it will be worth every penny when we pull it off. I’m excited... Because of Brexit and other complications we were initially concerned this idea would not become a reality. But now I am confident it will be pulled off and I cannot wait to see the outcome," said the restaurateur, who also holds regular fundraising nights to raise money for charities in the UK and hospitals in Bangladesh – the country from where his parents had migrated.
The latest idea was born as a result of demand from some loyal customers who are regulars at his restaurant.
"Although there are some Indian restaurants in France, the quality of food is nowhere near as good as in England. And this is partly because most French people are not fond of spicy dishes," explains Roy Buchan, a regular at Akash restaurant. He had hit headlines in 2014 when he took curry worth 100 pounds from Akash back to Normandy in northern France for his Christmas lunch.
Buchan triggered his latest French takeaway trend by posting an invitation on Facebook along with James Emery, an English expat and pilot who helped put the idea into practice.
“I have been a loyal customer of Akash for close to 20 years. Every time I popped in for a meal, I would complain about the bland and uninspiring version of Indian food we get in France,” Emery said.
With James’s help, Akash restaurant was able to contact Iroise Aero Formation, a professional flying school based in Brest, which agreed to provide the use of a six-seater TBM700.