DUBAI — A popular Indian restaurant here has fired its head chef, Indian-origin celebrity chef Atul Kochhar, following his “anti-Islam tweet.”
Michelin-star chef Kochhar of the Rang Mahal restaurant at the JW Marriot Marquis hotel received flak after taking a dig at actress Priyanka Chopra for her tweet over a “Quantico” episode that portrayed Hindu nationalists as terrorists.
Kochhar’s anti-Islam tweet created a furor on social media, with Twitterati calling for his sacking.
“Following the recent comments made by Chef Atul Kochhar, we have taken the decision to end our agreement with him for Rang Mahal. With the termination of our agreement, Chef Atul will no longer be associated with the restaurant,” JW Marriot Marquis Hotel said in a statement cited by Gulf News.
“At the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, we pride ourselves on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion for our guests and associates across the hotel and our restaurants. We also remain committed to delivering the traditional culinary experience and high service standards that Rang Mahal is renowned for,” it added.
Kochhar issued an apology for his remarks after sparking the controversy.
“There is no justification for my tweet, a major error made in the heat of the moment. I fully recognize my inaccuracies that Islam was founded around 1,400 years ago and I sincerely apologize. I am not Islamophobic, I deeply regret my comments that have offended many.”
The chef told Gulf News June 13 that he was “deeply upset” by the Dubai hotel’s decision.
“The decision by JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is deeply upsetting. However, I fully accept the great pain I have caused and the difficult position the hotel has been put in,” he said. “I have great respect for JW Marriott and in particular their staff in Dubai and wish the hotel well for the future. I hope my friends and well-wishers in Dubai will forgive me and continue to support me in the future.”
Kochhar faced the wrath of social media users with a call to boycott his restaurants after he criticized Chopra on Twitter who had posted an apology of her own for offending her fans over the recent “Quantico” episode. (See earlier India-West story here: https://bit.ly/2LPpoF6)
In Kochhar’s now deleted tweet, the chef responded to Chopra’s mea culpa, writing: “It’s sad to see that you have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorized by Islam over 2,000 years. Shame on you.”
Following the swift online backlash, Kochhar retracted his tweet. According to the hotel, the restaurant will continue to operate without the chef’s affiliation.