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Dubai Marriott ends contract with Atul Kochhar over ‘Islamophobic’ tweet

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Dubai Marriott ends contract with Atul Kochhar over ‘Islamophobic’ tweet

The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai has ended its contract with Atul Kochhar following a tweet deemed “Islamophobic”.

Rang Mahal, the restaurant Kochhar opened at the hotel in 2012, will continue to operate without the chef-restaurateur’s affiliation.

A statement from the hotel 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.”

“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,” said Kochhar in a statement.

“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.”

On Sunday, Kochhar replied to a tweet by actress Priyanka Chopra apologising for a controversial episode of US TV show Quantico, saying: “It’s sad to see that you have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorised by Islam over 2,000 years. Shame on You.”

The Indian-born, British-based chef later issued an apology: “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.”

He has since added: “I would like to apologise unreservedly to my Muslim friends, the Islamic community and everyone I have offended with my recent tweets. They were insensitive and wrong.

“My work and my restaurant are defined by a passion to unite cultures through food, love and understanding. I have let myself and my colleagues down. I am upset and sorry for the pain I have caused and ask for your forgiveness.”

Kochhar operates the Michelin-starred Benares and Indian Essence in London, Sindhu at the Macdonald Compleat Angler hotel in Marlow, and the two-AA-rosette Hawkyns at the Crown Inn in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, which he opened last year.

He also runs Benares in Madrid and recently featured on an episode of BBC Two’s Million Pound Menu, and committed to investing in Epoch, a restaurant concept by Ruth Hansom and Emily Lambert.

Atul Kochhar to launch Hawkyns restaurant later this month >>

Million Pound Menu: Five things we learnt about Ruth Hansom and Emily Lambert’s restaurant Epoch >>

Atul Kochhar named Chef of the Year at Asian Curry Awards 2017 >>

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