Michelin-star chef accused of using Knorr chicken cubes in vegetarian food: Why is this a big deal?

In picture: Chef Karunesh Khanna. | Image credit: Twitter/Karunesh Khanna official handle

A Michelin-star chef in the UK is accused of using Knorr chicken cubes while making food, even vegetarian food!

The Indian-origin chef, identified as Karunesh Khanna, worked with the Tamarind chain of restaurants. He has cooked for celebrities like David Beckham and Charlize Theron.

This alleged transgression of his apparently came to light only because an assistant manager brought a case of wrongful termination in front of an employment tribunal.

He claimed he lost his job because he alerted his bosses to what was happening in the kitchens of the upmarket Tamarind chain.

Knorr chicken cubes in various dishes?

According to a report in the Daily Mail, it all started when Assistant manager Mafis Ali raised concern about the use of the chicken stock cubes with a sous chef on June 4.

The employment tribunal Ali would approach after his dismissal was told that all he wanted was for customers and patrons to know the exact ingredients that were in their meals.

Khanna reportedly refused to budge, leading Ali to email all senior chefs in the group claiming that guests were being treated unfairly when it came to what went into their food.

When even that did not get the response Ali wanted, six members of the Tamarind staff on June 18 tried to take the matter up with restaurant manager Shoaib Malik, and were once again rebuffed. Malik resigned as a result, the tribunal was told.

The tribunal was also told that when the matter was brought before Tamarind director Fateh Dhaliwal, he said: “Those members of staff need to be phased out.”

Two weeks after the staff members took up the matter with Malik, Ali was also let go, the tribunal was told. It subsequently ruled that Ali’s dismissal was unfair.

[Representational image] | Picture credit: Creative Commons

What’s the big deal?

The problem with using chicken cubes in vegetarian meals can be manifold, not the least of which is that it invalidates the diet of strict vegetarians or vegans.

In Ali’s case, the problem was the use of the chicken cubes in making the food meant it was no longer halal for Muslims like him.

The problem would arise for people of other religions too, especially if their faith forbade them from eating non-vegetarian food.

The latter part is true for several sections of Hindus and almost all Jains, who follow a strict vegetarian diet because their religions say so.

Even otherwise, chicken stock in food may be a bit of a risk if the guest who has ordered the food is one of the rare few who are allergic to poultry.

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