Michelin-starred restaurants should be STRIPPED of their awards if staff are bullied, chefs demand
- Michelin-starred restaurants ‘should be stripped of awards if staff are bullied’
- Unichef said allegations of bullying were too common in the industry
- Asked members to sign petition aimed at stripping stars from chefs who bully
Michelin-starred restaurants should be stripped of their awards if staff are bullied, the chefs’ union is demanding amid allegations of abusive behaviour by chefs towards their colleagues in the industry.
Unichef last night said that allegations of bullying were too common and asked its members to sign a petition aimed at stripping Michelin stars and rosettes from restaurants where abuse takes place.
Executive director Brian McElderry told the Times: ‘The awarding of accreditations and/or sponsorship in a company’s name can no longer be deemed acceptable where the suffering and abuse of employees is taken so lightly.’
In a social media post, she wrote: ‘Break the silence – restaurant kitchens should not be a place of fear. A question for Michelin Guide UK: Do you have a code of conduct for a restaurant/chef you award a star to?’
It follows reports that chef Tom Kitchin has suspended two senior staff members over allegations of abusive behaviour towards his employees by senior staff, including sexual harassment and the denial of food and water during 18-hour shifts.
Tom Kitchin (pictured), who was made Scotland’s youngest Michelin star winner in 2006, opened The Kitchin in Edinburgh
The campaign has been backed by award-winning chef Asma Khan, the owner of Indian restaurant Darjeeling Express in London, who said she has been ‘calling out the toxic culture in kitchens for years’
The organisers of the campaign said in a statement calling for industry change that any ‘appalling behaviour… in the profession is vile and degrading and has no place in a modern working environment.
‘People within hospitality are well aware of all the issues but are reluctant to criticise but now we believe that all sponsorship and accolades awarded in a brand’s name should be rescinded upon proven evidence of abuse and that companies like Michelin and the AA should ‘call out’ abuse in their name.’
Mr Kitchin, 44, said the kitchens in his restaurants were high-pressure environments where emotions ‘often run high’. He added that behaviour had to match the standards expected of the food and service.
He said he was ‘immensely proud’ of his colleagues and ‘where we have fallen short, we will address and remedy it’.
‘Top kitchens the world over can be high-pressure, frenetic and challenging environments, where emotions often run high,’ he said.
‘However, the exacting standards of our food and service must be matched by the standards of behaviour in our kitchens and wider operations.
Michelin-starred restaurants should be stripped of their awards if staff are bullied, the chefs’ union is demanding amid allegations of abusive behaviour by chefs towards their colleagues in the industry (stock)
‘In the last few years, the feedback from our team members underlines the significant strides we’ve taken to improve what had often been a traditional culture in our kitchens, but we have more to do.
‘I’m immensely proud of my colleagues at the Kitchin Group and where we have fallen short, we will address it and remedy it. That will be our clear priority in the weeks, months and years ahead.’
Peter Southcott, managing director of the Kitchin Group, said: ‘Following allegations of unacceptable behaviour, two senior members of staff have been suspended whilst these claims are fully and independently investigated.
‘We will not hesitate to take whatever action may be necessary.’
Mr Kitchin, who opened his restaurant in Edinburgh 15 years ago, is a guest judge and mentor on MasterChef and appearances on Great British Menu.
The allegations follow a difficult year for the Kitchin Group, with Mr Kitchin forced to close Castle Terrace amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Southside Scran has been temporarily shuttered since last July and Mr Kitchin has been forced to make more than 100 redundancies, news he said he delivered ‘personally’ over the phone.