• Friday, May 20, 2022

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Michelin-starred chef accused of religious discrimination

Herbert Berger

By: Pramod Thomas

A top chef in the UK has been accused of religious discrimination after he allegedly told a catering manager to remove a Sikh bangle so that it would not get caught in a ladle, The Times reported. 

Niranjit Moorah Singh said that Herbert Berger, the former executive chef at the Café Royal in London, told him to remove the bracelet which had been given to him by his Malaysian grandfather 35 years ago.

Berger was born in Austria and trained in Salzburg. In England, he has worked at Claridges, and was head chef at the Mirabelle and he received his Michelin star for the Grill Room at the Café Royal, the report added.

Singh has told an employment tribunal that in the 20 years working and living in London, he had never before been asked to remove the bangle and he compared it to asking a Christian to take off a crucifix or a Muslim to remove a hijab. Some Sikhs wear a steel bangle called a kara as a sign of their faith.

As part of Singh’s case, he claims that Berger, who has won three Michelin stars in three establishments, asked him to remove the bangle because he was concerned it could become “stuck” in a “ladle whilst saucing the food”.

The tribunal was told that Singh started working at Innholders Hall, Berger’s London catering business, in 2010.

According to the report, Singh said that over the next eight years he worked up to the role of assistant manager and continued to work in the role until his employment ended last year.

In his written evidence Singh said that “every time Herbert sees me wearing my Sikh bangle . . . he asked me to remove it”.

“The bangle was given to me by my late grandfather who was still alive in Malaysia. I brought this with me in memory of him and I have used this Sikh bangle in my hand for more than 35 years now,” Singh was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

In July, lawyers for Berger challenged the claim and successfully argued that it should be dismissed.

However, the tribunal later discovered that Singh had been unaware of the hearing and he was allowed to resubmit his claim at a telephone hearing in early December, The Times report added.

Judgment in the case will be given at a later date.

Eastern Eye

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