The Tamarind Kitchen responds to ex-employee claiming chef puts chicken stock in vegan dishes

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

An employment tribunal judge ruled that the dismissal of an employee at The Tamarind Kitchen in Soho was unfair, as it  was deemed that the main reason for his dismissal was that he'd contacted a food safety contractor raising concerns about the use of chicken stock in vegetarian and vegan dishes. In response Tamarind has since  issued a statement saying: "We wish to make it absolutely clear that these reports are baseless allegations."

Updated 28/06/19

According to the claims made by one of the dismissed staff members, Mr Ali the executive chef at the Indian Cuisine Limited group restaurant, who also oversees its Michelin-starred Mayfair branch, Tamarind, said that “guests don’t need to know” what ingredients were used in dishes.

He alleged that six employees had approached the restaurant manager, Mr Malik,  raising concerns about the practice, but when the information was relayed to the restaurant director, he said that these members of staff must be “phased out.”

The restaurant manager was told to make one member of staff, Mr Ali, redundant, but felt uncomfortable doing so and instead chose to go on paid leave. Both Mr Ali and an assistant manager were made redundant anyway.

Mr Ali called food safety consultant Food Alert, pretending to be a journalist, to tip them off about the practice.

The ruling played in his favour, calling the dismissal “unfair,” despite Mr Ali’s use of the word “jihad” to describe his campaign, and the fact that he illegally accessed emails between Food Alert and head chef Karunesh Khanna. It was deemed that the act of whistleblowing was the main reason for his being made redundant.

Restaurant director Fateh Dhaliwal has since denied claims that the restaurant ever used meat-based stock cubes stock in vegetarian or vegan dishes, stressing that Mr Ali was already set to be made redundant. Unless a settlement is reached before then, a remedy hearing will take place in September. 

In a statement to the press by Tamarind on this isssue they said:

There have been number of press reports that Tamarind Group has used chicken powder in vegan and vegetarian dishes. These are incorrect.

We wish to make it absolutely clear that these reports are baseless allegations.
Mr. Mafis Ali is a disgruntled ex-employee who raised number of unfounded allegations against us in Employment Tribunal (ET) case regarding his redundancy.

As a company when Mr. Mafis Ali was made redundant he was offered proper compensation but he tried to blackmailed the company by asking for £150,000 (see para 74 of the judgement) to settle his redundancy, while the correct figure is closer to £2,500 as per ET judgement, that’s too because of procedural lapses.
Mr. Ali has been running a campaign of harassment against the Group for over a year. By threatening us with “Jihad” (see para 84).

Mr. Ali claimed that we were misguiding customers about Halal dishes. ET accepted that we are not a Halal restaurant and have never been one. We have always served alcohol and continue to do so.

We have never used chicken stock powder in Vegan or Vegetarian meals. Employment tribunal has not stated that Tamarind Kitchen, Soho used chicken stock powder in Vegan or Vegetarian meals.

Further note all allegations ( which we continue to deny ) are only against Tamarind Kitchen (167-169 Wardour St, Soho, London W1F 8WR) and not the other Tamarind restaurants , in particular Tamarind of Mayfair ( 20 Queen St, Mayfair, London W1J 5PR ). So kindly do not suggest any other restaurant was or is involved.

Employment judgement is a matter of public record.

What do you think chefs? Should employees' rights to call out bad practices in restaurants be protected? 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 27th June 2019

The Tamarind Kitchen responds to ex-employee claiming chef puts chicken stock in vegan dishes