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Atul Kochhar's interest in food began early, while helping at his father's contract and event catering business in India. Ignoring pressure to become a doctor or engineer, he followed his heart and took on a chef apprenticeship with the Oberoi group of hotels. He rose through the ranks to become a senior sous chef at Oberoi New Delhi’s fine-dining restaurant, before being headhunted to come to the UK as head chef of Tamarind, which opened in November 1994. Kochhar was at the helm when Tamarind won its Michelin star in 2001 – he was the first Indian chef to claim the coveted gong. Having decided to go it alone, Kochhar opened Benares in 2003 and the restaurant won its own Michelin star in 2007. He appears regularly on television programmes, participating in Saturday Kitchen and the first three series of the BBC’s Great British Menu. His books include Indian Essence and Fish, Indian Style.
Benares: 12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London W1J 6BS; 020 3544 1650
Read Square Meal’s interview with Atul Kochhar (published in autumn 2010).