Two senior members of staff have been suspended at the Tom Kitchin-owned Kitchin Group, following allegations of staff mishandling and harassment.
Some 12 former employees reportedly alleged in comments to The Times of “hellish” sexual harassment, abuse, and the denial of food, water, and lavatory breaks amid up to 18 hour shifts across the group’s restaurants.
James Dunn, a former chef at the Kitchin, told the publication: “My psychologist said I had symptoms of PTSD. After half a month of working there I had lost so much weight my mum said she thought I had a digestive disease. I cannot work in kitchens again.”
In The Times report, allegations about specific named members of staff were made which Catering Today cannot independently verify.
In a statement to Catering Today, Peter Southcott, managing director at the company, said that the firm “will not hesitate to take whatever action may be necessary”.
He added: “Following allegations of unacceptable behaviour, two senior members of staff have been suspended whilst these claims are fully and independently investigated.
“For obvious reasons, anonymous and non-specific allegations made via social media are virtually impossible to verify and investigate. If anyone wishes to bring specific issues to our attention, they can do so via firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be investigated by an independent, external HR consultancy.”
Tom Kitchin said: “Top kitchens the world over can be high-pressure, frenetic and challenging environments, where emotions often run high. However, the exacting standards of our food and service must be matched by the standards of behaviour in our kitchens and wider operations.”
He added: “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.”