Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Indian-Origin Michelin Star Chef in Soup Over Tweet on Islam

Atul Kochhar

The controversial Quantico episode, which showed Hindus hatching a terror plot in the United States to frame Pakistan, continues to draw blood. Now, Indian-origin Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar is facing heat for a tweet he wrote, addressing actor Priyanka Chopra over the issue.

Kochhar, the head chef at Rang Mahal, a popular restaurant at the JW Marriot Marquis hotel in Dubai, later deleted the post. He also apologized for the tweet, which was published on June 10, after it was criticized for being “anti-Islam.”

Kochhar posted an apology, saying the “major error” was “made in heat of the moment.”

Kochhar had earlier slammed the Indian actress for starring in an episode that portrayed Hindu nationalists as terrorists. “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 (sic),” he tweeted.

The JW Marriot, in a tweet posted on June 11, distanced itself from Kochhar’s comments. “We are aware of the comments made by Chef Atul Kochhar. We would like to stress that we do not share the same views as stated in the remark, nor is it a representation of the culture of diversity and inclusion that we pride ourselves on at the hotel,” the hotel tweeted.

Social media users have also been asking the hotel to fire him.

A Twitter user Irena Akbar pointed out the chasm between the hotel’s “tolerance” and his “bigotry.” She tweeted: “But now that there is a clear clash of values (your tolerance vs his bigotry), how can you carry on such a relationship? His contract should be snapped.”

Some Twitter users also called for a boycott of the restaurant. A Twitter user said: “You don’t need to be profiting of “terrorists” right? Stop serving halal food at Benares. I for one will never be eating there again. You sound like an extremist and you are everything that is wrong with the world.”

Another user asked the chef to check his facts, as Islam is only 1,400 years old while someone pointed out that Kochhar’s apology seems to be over the inaccuracy of calling Islam 2,000 years old rather than his bigotry.

A restaurant finder app, Halal Gems, has removed the Benares restaurant from its list of recommendations on the app as well as its four guides, saying it won’t be promoting any restaurant “associated with Atul Kochhar.”

After the Quantico episode invited backlash from many Indians, Chopra and the studio apologized over the issue, with the studio saying that the actress has been “unfairly targeted.”