Chef Atul Kochhar of Benares - Biography

London, UK

March 2012

Chef Atul Kochhar has changed how the British—perhaps the world—look at Indian cuisine. Coming from a poor background in Jamshedpur, India, Kochhar carries a sentimentality that forces him to respect the product he works with, and in turn prepares amazing dishes for his customers. His frequent visits to his Indian homeland also allow him to research ingredients and conjure new dishes.

Kocchar arrived in London in 1994, opening fine-dining Indian restaurant Tamarind to much fanfare. Seven years later, at just 31, he became the first Indian chef to win a Michelin star. Kochhar earned his second star with Benares, where he uses seasonal ingredients from “all corners of India” and marries tradition with modernity. The restaurant also includes a “grazing menu,” in which he provides guests with samples of his most recognizable dishes.

While Benares is his flagship, Kocchar also opened several other restaurants, including Ananda in Dublin. In early 2012, Kochhar plans to open another Indian restaurant, this time in the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai. The restaurant, Rang Mahal, which means “palace full of colors,” will be similar in concept to Benares and focus on local ingredients (not an easy feat for a desert-based city). However, Kochhar says the city is only a few hours from India and has excellent infrastructure.

Kochhar has also written two cookbooks—Indian Essence and Fish, Indian Style—and is planning a third focused on curries. Like many other top British chefs, Kochhar has appeared on BBC’s "Great British Menu", competing in three of its seasons.