A British Indian chef and charity worker is among the British Empire Medal (BEM) winners on the royal invitation list for King Charles III’s Coronation ceremony in London next month.
Manju Malhi was awarded a BEM for services to the community in London during the Covid-19 response and will join 850 BEM recipients as well as other community champions and charity representatives from across the UK at the ceremony to be held in Westminster Abbey on May 6.
Malhi is a professional chef who acted as the Resident Chef for charity Open Age since 2016. Open Age champions an active life for older people in London, helping those aged 50 or older to sustain their physical and mental fitness, maintain an active lifestyle and develop new interests.
Malhi turned Open Age’s kitchen into a cookery school and restaurant for members and staff, and offered remote cookery classes during Covid-19. Malhi also leads Open Age’s community Big Local Family Cooking Club. The sessions are fun, interactive and an opportunity for local residents from all backgrounds to come together, make a meal and eat together as community family.
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The British-born chef and food writer grew up in north-west London and specialises in Anglo-Indian cuisine. She spent several years of her childhood in India, where she explored and experienced the vast and varied cuisines of the country of her heritage. Malhi, who also appears on television cookery shows, has come up with what she describes as a “Brit-Indi” style of food, which mixes Indian and western influences.
The chef was awarded her BEM by the late Queen Elizabeth II, an honour conferred on those behind a sustained commitment in support of a local charitable or voluntary activity, or innovative work that has delivered real impact in the community. The BEM particularly recognises the achievement or contribution of service to the community in a local area. The palace says that many of the 450 BEM recipients attending the Coronation Service were instrumental in providing services and support to their local communities during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
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Meanwhile, around 400 wider community champions have also been nominated by the King, Queen and the UK government. They represent a range of charitable organisations with a long history of support from the royal family, including 200 young people involved with the Prince’s Trust, the Prince’s Foundation, Barnardo’s, the National Literacy Trust and Ebony Horse Club. They will be among the chosen few to have the opportunity to watch the special Coronation service and procession from St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey.