Atul Kochhar

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Atul Kochhar
Atul Kochhar.jpg
Born 31 August 1969
Jamshedpur, India
Culinary career

Atul Kochhar (born 31 August 1969) is an Indian born, British based chef, restaurateur and television personality. Atul is one of the most critically acclaimed chefs in Britain for his take on modern Indian cuisine. Atul was the second Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, which he maintained with the opening of his first solo venture- Benares restaurant in London in 2007. Atul regularly appears on television shows including Masterchef Goes Large and Great British Menu. He is also a regular guest on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and in 2010 launched his own series: Atul’s Spice Kitchen: Malaysia.[1]

Early Life and Work Experience[edit]

Atul was born in Jamshedpur in India and began his cooking career at The Oberoi group of hotels in India (1989-1994) where he gained a diploma in Hotel Management.[2] In June 1993 Atul graduated to the five star deluxe Oberoi hotel in New Delhi.[3] Here he worked as a Sous Chef in one of the five restaurants in the hotel supervising a staff of 18 and immediately raising the standards in the kitchen. In January 1994 Atul moved to the fine dining restaurant of renowned chef Bernard Kunig. Atul continued his cooking career and in January 2001 at the age of 31, Atul was the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star. The following year Atul extended his profile and experience, joining Marks and Spencer’s as a consultant chef advising on their Indian food range.[4]

Benares Restaurant[edit]

Benares Restaurant and Bar opened in May 2003 and has since come to be regarded as one of the world’s best Indian restaurants. Benares is known for modern Indian cuisine with a delicate use of spices to create outstanding dishes. Atul has been instrumental in changing the perception of Indian food in Britain with his boldly flavoured contemporary cooking. This is strongly reflected in the menu at Benares, which demonstrates Atul’s extensive research as it incorporates dishes from all parts of India.[5] The name Benares originates from the Indian city Varanasi which is situated on the banks of the River Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest in India.[6] Benares Restaurant and Bar, opened in May 2003 to great critical acclaim and has emerged as one of London’s best restaurants. In 2009 the restaurant endured a kitchen fire that resulted in extensive smoke damage. Reluctantly the restaurant closed for three months to undergo a complete interior refurbishment. Benares reopened its doors in January 2010 reinventing the look and features of the space. The restaurant now seats 80 people in the main restaurant and offers three private dining rooms with a maximum seating of up to 36 people, the largest private room in Mayfair. The restaurant also offers a Sommelier’s Table for 10 people where guests are surrounded by the world’s finest wine and champagnes. Guests in groups of up to six people also have the option of enjoying their meal at the Chef’s Table which gives an intimate view of the chefs and kitchen during the service.[7]

Restaurants and Expansion[edit]

In 2008 Atul opened his first restaurant in Ireland, Ananda – meaning eternal joy –in the Dundrum Town Centre on the outskirts of Dublin.[8] That year he also opened Vatika Restaurant located in Southampton situated on Wickham Vineyard. Just an hour from London, the team at Vatika focuses on serving cutting edge cuisine using locally sourced and freshly prepared ingredients which gives rise to modern British food with a unique Indian twist. In September 2011 Vatika closed and Atul is currently looking at locations to reopen Vatika in London.[9]

Atul also has a restaurant's on P&O’s cruise ships, Sindhu aboard the Azura cruise ship and more recently East aboard Ventura. Sindhu is one of Azura’s three select dining restaurants and the name signifies the river Indus, and is sometimes taken to mean "meeting point" or "fusion" in Hindi. Atul said that launching a restaurant aboard a P&O ship was a "Dream come true. My restaurant on Azura will be called Sindhu, and that’s what my cuisine is, an amalgamation of British and Indian, so it’s just the right name. I’m a great believer that good food is often simple food, so that will be the best thing to give". The on-board restaurant celebrates Britain’s love of Indian food and P&O Cruises long-standing affiliation with India. Diners are able to sample a fusion of British and Indian cuisine whilst watching chefs in action in the theatre style galley. The venue will have two different areas – a bar for pre-dinner drinks and light meals in the main restaurant. Kochhar spends a minimum of 20 days a year aboard the ship and overseeing the restaurant.[10]

2013 saw the opening of Rang Mahal in Dubai's JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Simply India in The St. Regis Mauritius Resort and Indian Essence in Petts Wood.

Atul also holds regular master classes where groups between four and six are invited into the kitchen at Benares and guests can join him to prepare his favourite dishes.[11]


Both Atul and Benares have been awarded a number of accolades including Atul receiving an Honorary Doctorate Degree from University of Southampton to recognise the work that he has contributed to the culinary industry.[12] He has also received the Outstanding Contribution to the Curry Industry at the 2005 British Curry Awards and on 20 March 2010 he received the TMG Cordon Bleu Award. In addition, Atul was personally invited to meet the Queen during a State visit with the President of India, along with being invited to cook for Prince Charles at St James’ Palace in April 2010.[13]


Atul has also been featured in numerous television series; most recently he is presenting a new series called Curry on with Atul Kochhar on the B4U network and in October 2010 he presented a series on Malaysia called Atul’s Spice Kitchen.[14] Atul also appeared in Masterchef Goes Large, season two and BBC2’s Great British Menu in a bid to create a menu in honour of the Queen’s 80th Birthday. Furthermore, he also appears in Market Kitchen and Saturday Kitchen seasons one through three.[15]


Atul’s recipes have appeared widely in magazines and newspapers, and he demonstrates regularly on food shows in the UK and abroad. He currently has three books published including his debut book, Indian Essence (published by Quadrille in 2004) and his second book Fish, Indian Style (published by Absolute Press in 2008). Atul released his third book, Curries of the World, in March 2013.[16] Atul has also been featured in Great British Menu Cookbook (Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd in 2007).

Charity Involvement[edit]

Atul is heavily involved in the children’s charities Barnardo’s, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Save the Children. He has an overwhelming passion to support under privileged children and continues to work closely with these charities and many others. Atul is also proud to be an Ambassador for Find Your Feet, a small charity that supports poverty stricken rural areas by developing successful poverty-relief programmes that encourage self-sufficiency and independence. An active ambassador, since 2007 Kochhar has visited Find Your Feet’s vital work in India and hosted fundraising dinners that have raised over £35,000; helping thousands of families in his home state of Jharkhand, and throughout northern India, out of hunger and poverty.[17]


As well as working with charities Kochhar has a great passion for the environment and how food affects our surroundings. He strongly believes in locally sourced ingredients and organic products whenever possible. As a chef he takes a strong stand on sustainable fishing and always uses responsibly sourced fish in his restaurants. Kochhar is also a fan of cricket and enjoys mountaineering. He currently lives in west London with his wife Deepti and his young son and daughter.


External links[edit]