The owner of a pair of Suffolk restaurants has spoken of his delight after one of them took two accolades at the Asian Restaurant and Takeaway Awards (ARTAs).

Nasir Jilani, owner at The Chequers Indian Lounge at Great Blakenham, saw his chef Hussain Miah, from Ipswich, take the National Chef of the Year and Chef of the Year awards at the Hilton Park Lane event in London at the weekend – billed as the ‘Oscars of the Curry Industry’.

Also owning Jilani restaurant in North Street, Sudbury, Nasir said this was a fantastic achievement in such a short space of time for the fine dining Chequers.

He said: “It has been fabulous, I took this pub over in September last year and people were saying ‘why are you taking on a pub in the middle of nowhere during an energy crisis’ but at the end of the day business is a gamble, you have got to be in it to win it, and it has been an amazing journey so far.

We have spent a lot of money on the place, including getting an interior designer from London up to fit it out and we have been packed every weekend since we opened, with customers coming from Cambridge to Colchester and everywhere in between and they have been great.”

Talking of his award-winning chef, he said he worked very hard to get his awards, including Hussain taking on eight other chefs in a cook-off in the kitchens of Cambridge Regional College for the overall title.

Nasir said: “Hussain has been with me since day one and he is fantastic – he is young, eager and great in the kitchen.

“When he went to the cook-off, all the other chefs were older than him but he nailed it not just in the cooking but the presentation and fully deserves the recognition.”

The restaurant owner, who also has The Chequers in contention for the Fine Dining category and Jilani in the Newcomer category at the Asian Curry Awards in November said he hoped the awards would help them attract more staff, which is an ongoing issue affect the hospitality industry.

Nasir said: “It is very difficult to attract staff, especially front of house, so with these awards I hope it shows people looking to work that we are something special here.