Ahmed’s wins runner-up in British Kebab Awards 2020 as Jeremy Corbyn gets booed

Ahmed’s Bar B-Q kebab van, locally known simply as ‘Ahmed’s’, won runner-up in the Ace4Kebabs Kebab Van of the Year award in the British Kebab Awards 2020 on this Tuesday.

They clinched first prize in 2019, but Ahmed found that his van had lost the title on Tuesday March 4th as Atalay’s Kebab Van was awarded the top prize. Atalay’s are well known to Ahmed and his team. The Thame-based van previously won best kebab van for two years running in 2017 and 2018.

Kebab shops from across the UK were nominated for various awards including Best Newcomer Restaurant and Best Value Restaurant, as well as regional awards. Of his victory, Ahmed said: “I thank everyone who supported and voted (for) me,” adding that “next year we’ll get another one (award)!” He particularly thanked students who he said formed most of his support.

Ahmed’s Bar B-Q won runner up for the best kebab van in the country last Tuesday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended the event alongside Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. He received a divided response from the audience after he told them: “My test of a kebab restaurant because of predilection not to eat meat is, sorry about this – I can’t ignore the truth that I am a vegetarian – is that, does it contain salad and do they have good falafels?”

Ahmed’s Bar B-Q, a family-run business, has been running since 1987 by owner, Ahmed Semlali outside the Old Bank Hotel on High Street. Ahmed told The Oxford Blue that he had seen a surge of customers after he was nominated a few months ago. He hoped that the award would win him even more customers as more people are excited to come “to try” his food.

They are a local favourite, being one of the few who accept debit cards. Other Oxford-based kebab vans include McCoy’s and Hassan’s.

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured with Ahmed Semlali in 2019, is a regular attendee at the British Kebab Awards

The kebab industry has become a huge contributor to Britain’s economic and cultural scene. Organised by the Centre for Turkey Studies and sponsored by major companies including Just Eat and Coca Cola, the success of the British Kebab Awards shows just how important a part of the UK’s culinary landscape the kebab industry, worth £2.2 bn a year, has become. Ahmed will be hoping the industry becomes even more popular as he seeks to go one better next year.

Phoebe Hennell

Phoebe Hennell is co-founder of The Oxford Blue, and former Managing Director. She is reading Philosophy and Modern Greek at Christ Church, and is on her year abroad in Athens.