Tom Kitchin: Michelin star chef accused of physically abusing and humiliating staff

Thirteen former employees of the Kitchin Group have reportedly come forward and accused Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin of physically abusing and humiliating them at work.

The Times reported on Friday the former staff members came forward after an earlier investigation reported allegations of mistreatment under the Kitchin Group between 2008 and 2019.

The recent accusations include Kitchin grabbing employees and pinning them up against the wall, and denying staff medical treatment until after service.

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One junior chef claimed the renowned cook threw him against a door in 2012 while he was working at The Kitchin, an Edinburgh-based Michelin-starred restaurant.

An anonymous former employee claimed Kitchin grabbed his jacket and knocked him off his feet for failing to smooth over the surface of a tub of mascarpone. He said he was also pinned up against a wall and “had no idea what was happening”.

Kitchin, 44, runs Michelin-starred restaurant the Kitchin and gastropub Scran and Scallie, both in Edinburgh, and has been a guest judge on BBC One's MasterChef.

David Sunderland, 32, alleged that Kitchin kicked, threw and undermined him between 2011 and 2012 while he was working as a commis chef.

He said that he was once serving a table of VIPs with very specific instructions, but that confusion led Kitchin to “throw all the plates”, grab him and push him up against a door. He told The Times: “I’d been shouted at before, but never physically grabbed and thrown.”

Tom Kitchin has hit out at the Scottish Government's latest Covid restrictions on the hospitality sector in Scotland.

Mr Sunderland also claimed that once he was “poked in the kidneys when I wasn’t moving fast enough, a single-knuckle jab kind of thing".

He is now a head chef in Glasgow and has worked in several fine-dining restaurants since working under Kitchin.

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Another chef said that in 2009 Kitchin refused to let a colleague who had suffered a burn while working seek medical attention until the dinner service had ended.

Two 19-year-old men, Ethan Marshall and Connor Dougan, also shared their experiences of working under the Kitchin Group.

Mr Marshall said that in 2018 he completed a day-long unpaid trial shift at The Kitchen, where he claimed he saw the Michelin-star chef pin another chef up against a wall by his throat because he had made a mistake.

He was then allegedly moved to another of Kitchin’s restaurants, the Scran and Scallie, where he claimed that colleagues refused to use his name, referring to him only as “it”, “him”, or “the stage”.

A spokesperson for the Kitchin Group had denied Mr Marshall ever worked for the business.

Kitchin earlier this month suspended two members of staff following allegations of "unacceptable behaviour" at his restaurants.

In a statement, Kitchin said: “I have a hard-earned and well-merited reputation for demanding very high standards and also for being firm, but fair.

“That’s why hundreds of ambitious chefs from all over the world have sought to work as part of our team in the past 15 years, honing their skills at one of the country’s top restaurants.

“People understand that pressurised, often frenetic and highly-charged kitchen environments aren’t for everyone, but we have already made clear that a fully independent, external HR consultancy will investigate any genuine complaints and, where they have merit, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action.”

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