BY SAM COURTNEY-GUY
Political crisis? What political crisis? The relaxed faces of top MPs seemed to say just that as they rubbed shoulders with the country’s leading grill-masters last week.
This year’s British Kebab Awards saw Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria and other guests descend on Waterloo with contenders from Clapham to Enniskillen.
After rounds of complimentary wine and canapé-sized shawarma wraps, the respected figures (and the politicians) were ushered to their tables at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel – where more booze, culinary delights and an evening of entertainment awaited.
As a pair of bellydancers wrapped up their act, Mr Corbyn sashayed through crowds of wellwishers and photographers towards the stage, where he attempted to skewer nay-sayers who questioned his presence as an avowed vegetarian:
He said: “It’s strange really, as one who chooses not to eat meat and chooses not to drink, I love kebab shops for what they do.
“And I love having a falafel wrap in a kebab shop.”
Mr Bailey was greeted with boos as he climbed the stage to present one of the 17 gongs up for grabs at the Labour-dominated event.
Judges included a senior Financial Times correspondent and Conservative minister Nadhim Zahawi, who missed the event to defend the government’s Brexit strategy on BBC’s Newsnight.
Some 44 per cent of Labour-voting respondents said they had eaten a kebab in the past month – more than the supporters of any other party – while Londoners led the poll over other regions with 56 per cent.
None of the four South London grills shortlisted left with a prize. Residents pining for a taste of kebab royalty will have to trek at least as far as Canary Wharf’s Hazev, which won Bekzod Khamrakulov an accolade for Young Chef of the Year.