Top chef Cyrus Todiwala is holding a talent show to get more Britons cooking Indian food to save the £4 billion industry.
The restaurant boss has organised the MasterChef-style scheme for teams of college students. Zest Quest Asia 2016 has been launched to address the lack of trained chefs currently in Indian cuisine.
Recent figures showed at least two curry houses are being forced to close down every week in the UK due to staff shortages.
And Todiwala, 54, warned action must be taken to attract young talent to the industry.
He told Eastern Eye: “We are battling against classical methods of training that are embedded over 100 years teaching British, French and other European cuisines.
”We have to approach this gradually and try and convert the thinking of young British minds. We need them to look at our cuisines and think there lies a great opportunity to explore and develop that into a successful career.
“Sadly we have no role models in our industry. The lead has to be taken; we’re trying our best to encourage young motivated chefs to take on Asian cuisine as a full-time career.”
The deadline for entries to cook the best cuisine is November 6. The winning team and their tutor will be flown to south Asia to learn about local dishes.
Industry bosses have warned eateries are struggling because of immigration clampdowns and the children of restaurant owners prefering to chase high-earning jobs rather than cook for a living.
Skilled chefs from outside the EU must have five years experience and be paid £29,570 a year after deductions for accommodation and meals. And the job cannot be in a fast-food outlet or a business which has a take-away service.
The government launched an Asian Restaurants Skills Board to run weekend courses called the Junior Chefs Academy. It has helped to organise programmes at the University of West London on Indian cooking where students are mentored by chef Dipna Anand.
But Todiwala, who runs three restaurants in London, believes previous governments failed to do enough to help the industry.
He added: “[I opened] the Asian and Oriental School of Catering. The government did not give us a fair chance to succeed to our full potential and we are still deep in the mire.
“The problem of chefs is not simply associated to the Asian sector alone, the entire industry is in jeopardy and suffering from a serious skills shortage.”
Todiwala is hosting a dinner at his Cafe Spice Namaste in London on October 26 to raise funds for budding chefs on the Worshipful Company of Cooks Apprentice Programme.
Meanwhile, around 150 curry house owners held crisis talks about the future of the industry last month in Edinburgh.
They discussed lobbying the government to make it easier for chefs to enter the UK and were given legal advice by experts in a debate screened on Channel S, a Bangladeshi TV channel.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We have been working with the Asian Restaurant Skills Board, who are developing scholarships and apprenticeships to help fill kitchens with the best up-and-coming UK talent.”