Further details have emerged of allegations of mistreatment of staff by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin first reported earlier this month.
According to The Times, Kitchin has been accused of humiliating behaviour and abuse by 13 former kitchen staff, one of whom said he was pinned against a wall after failing to complete a task to Kitchin’s satisfaction.
The claims span 11 years, from 2008 to 2019.
Kitchin has denied all allegations of physical abuse and humiliation of staff.
They include a junior chef being allegedly thrown against a door by Kitchin in his Edinburgh restaurant The Kitchin in 2012 and another chef who said he was hit in the chest and pinned to a wall by Kitchin after the chef’s failure to smooth the surface of a tub of mascarpone in 2010.
Bullying and harassment
The chef claimed that Kitchin “grabbed my chef jacket and knocked me off my feet”, adding “I was pinned up against the wall and had no idea what was happening. Mascarpone should be smoothed over so there is less surface area to go off, but I [was] going to finish the tub by the end of the night.”
A chef recalled being “poked in the kidneys when I wasn’t moving fast enough, a single-knuckle jab kind of thing” and another claimed that in 2009 Kitchin failed to allow a colleague who had suffered a burn injury at work seek medical attention until after dinner service had finished.
A 19-year-old trainee told The Times that during an unpaid day-long trial shift in 2018 he saw Kitchin pin a chef against the wall by his throat because he made a mistake. He said that on subsequent days he was referred to as “it” and “him” rather than have his name used, and was told to remain silent at all times.
Another trainee was told to get a haircut despite wearing a hairnet. Kitchin grabbed him one morning, the trainee alleged and ripped the hairnet off, before spraying him with a washing up hose.
A spokesman for the Kitchin Group told the newspaper: “A great deal has changed in kitchens over the past decade and we are committed to continuing that progress.”
Kitchin responded to the allegations by referring to his “hard-earned and well-merited reputation for demanding very high standards and also for being firm but fair”.
He added that a “fully independent, external HR consultancy will investigate any genuine complaints and . . . will not hesitate to take appropriate action”.
Earlier this month, chefs’ union Unichef, began campaigning for Michelin stars to be stripped from restaurants where bullying and abuse had taken place in the kitchen.
Aberdeen-based craft beer giant Brewdog has also faced allegations over treatment of staff in recent weeks and says it has committed itself to improving its culture and treatment of staff.
In 2019 a report by the Centre for London revealed that poor working conditions and pay made chef retention difficult.