Atul Kochhar, the celebrity chef had tweeted that Hindus have been ‘terrorized by Islam for 2000 years’. After a severe backlash, Kochhar deleted the tweet.
The London-based chef, who was associated with the Rang Mahal restaurant in Dubai as well as five others in the UK and Spain, had been reacting to an episode of the US TV programme Quantico.
In one of the recent episodes of the action series, in which the lead played by Priyanka Chopra, a Bollywood actress, showed Hindus as terrorists who were trying to frame Pakistanis.
Kochhar’s behavior is offensive, not just to me as a Muslim, but as a Chef who loves his job, and gets respect in return. As a chef I have never been asked which religion I belong to, and which cast or creed I grew up in.
I have worked all over the world and seen that people treat us chefs with the utmost dignity, and trust us the same way they would trust their families, and sometimes even God. The reason for this is that we are not just preparing food for the people. We are taking care of their beliefs. Some like halal, some don’t, some love beef, others are vegetarian. And when we serve them their food, we live up to the trust that we must not break and hurt the sensitivities of our customers.
Atul Kochhar, the people you serve trust you not just with their food, but with their health, their religious sentiments. In return, you, in just a few words have shattered each and every belief they have ever put in you. You have returned this trust and respect with bigotry and hate.
I am sorry to say that when you do that you are not a chef anymore. You are just a bigot, who plays with the sentiments of those who put in their trust in you. The day we join this field we take an oath that we will not play with people sentiments and will always be fair and just to them. Only then we receive our jackets.
Today, as a chef, I am very ashamed of Atul Kochhar who wears this noble jacket and betrays this noble profession, that too with a Michelin star. Kochhar is the second Indian chef to receive a Michelin star.
However, Kochhar, with his Islamphobic rant on twitter, not only exposed himself, but played with the sentiments of his customers, who recognised him as a chef not as a Hindu, Muslim, Christian or a Jew.
Netizens too have expressed their outrage and called JW Marriott to suspend their contract with the chef.
Kochhar has apologized for his remarks:
There is no justification for my tweet, a major error made in the heat of the moment on Sunday. I fully recognise my inaccuracies that Islam was founded around 1,400 years ago and I sincerely apologise. I am not Islamophobic, I deeply regret my comments that have offended many.
— Atul Kochhar (@atulkochhar) June 11, 2018
In yet another tweet, which is now pinned on his account, he once again apologized to his “Muslim friends,” the Islamic Community and all those who were offended by his remarks.
— Atul Kochhar (@atulkochhar) June 12, 2018
Despite his apologies, and given the barrage of outrage on social media against the chef which included threats to boycott his Dubai restaurant and the JW Marriott Marquis hotel that houses it, the hotel ended its contract with him.
“Following the recent comments made by chef Atul Kochhar, we have taken the decision to end our agreement with him for Rang Mahal,” the spokeswoman had said.
But this is not enough. The man has not just done disservice to the organisation he worked for but the profession itself. And if this is accepted, we will only have ourselves to blame if no one trusts a chef with their food.
I am absolutely stunned and request chef forums, organisations and bodies worldwide to boycott him.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Free Press Kashmir.
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