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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Update: following anti-Islamic tweet, chef Atul Kochhar is no longer part of Dubai's Rang Mahal 

The celebrity chef has apologised for his 'hasty' remark in regards to an episode of Quantico

Atul Kochhar weighed in on the Quantico debate on Twitter, upsetting many of his customers and fans in the process. Supplied 
Atul Kochhar weighed in on the Quantico debate on Twitter, upsetting many of his customers and fans in the process. Supplied 

Business Bay hotel JW Marriott Marquis has terminated its contract with celebrity chef Atul Kochhar following a controversial tweet, where he said "Hindus have been terrorised by Islam for 2000 years".

The hotel, which houses the Rang Mahal restaurant set up by Kochhar, said: "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 and the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai.

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."

J.W. Marriott Marquis's Rang Mahal. Courtesy J.W. Marriott Marquis
Rang Mahal is a high-end halal Indian restaurant

The controversy started with Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra. The actress may not have written, directed or decided in any way that her Quantico character should foil a plan by Hindu extremists to frame terrorists from Pakistan for an attack on Kashmir, but she faced flak for it all the same.

She has since apologised. The Kashmir issue is, without a doubt a sensitive one, but by apologising the actress has arguably justified being trolled for what is essentially fiction.

Meanwhile, Kochhar faced a backlash - from his Muslim and Hindu patrons alike - for the tweet he dashed off on June 10: "It's sad to see that you have not respected the sentiments of Hindus," the 47-year-old restaurateur lamented, followed by a bizarre and largely inaccurate "[Hindus] who have been terrorised by Islam over 2000 years", followed by a rather juvenile "shame on you".

Atul Kochhar has since taken the tweet down 
Atul Kochhar has since taken the tweet down 

His kinder critics were quick to point out that Islam has not even been around for 2,000 years - the religion is thought to have come into being just over 1,400 years ago, in the year 610.

More irate users, however, have called Kochhar out for being an Islamophobe, with some asking for the chef to be sacked from Rang Mahal. Many have taken to social media to announce they will no longer take their custom to his restaurants, with some even saying they will cancel previously held table reservations.

Kochhar is widely lauded as the first Indian chef to earn a Michelin star for Tamarind restaurant in London, and won a second star for the city's Benares. In addition to deleting the tweet, the chef has issued an apology, calling his words a "major error made in the heat of the moment".

Interestingly, in a previous interview with The National, Kochhar had this to say about "life lessons": "Be open to criticism. Criticism is vital to help you grow and evolve into a better organisation and individual. It can be painful, but you must rise above it, understand the motivation behind it, and improve your plan."

Perhaps that plan will now be not to generalise, and definitely to think before tweeting.

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