Belfast restaurant Shu kitchen tantrums blamed on Gordon Ramsay
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s influence has been blamed by a senior tribunal judge for the “shouting, screaming and tantrums” at a top Belfast restaurant.
Noel Kelly made the remarks as he awarded a former waitress at Shu restaurant nearly £7,000 compensation.
Mr Kelly said Shu had a “particularly amateurish approach” to employee relations.
And in referring to tantrums in kitchen workplaces in general, he said TV chef Gordon Ramsay “had a lot to answer for”.
But the judge dismissed one of the woman’s allegations, that the head chef on the Lisburn Road eatery referred to her only as “the wee girl”, saying the chef had not intended offence and it was part of normal speech in Belfast.
Ex-waitress Jessica Murray lost claims that she had suffered age and gender discrimination at the hands of the management, but the tribunal upheld her claim that she had been constructively and unfairly dismissed.
The restaurant, owned by businessman Alan Reid, has won rave reviews, with top food writer Tom Parker-Bowles calling it “seriously good”.
Ms Murray began working as a runner at Shu in February 2012 before becoming a section waitress. But relations between waitress and management began to deteriorate after February 2013 and she left last year.
She said head chef Brian McCann pretended not to know her name, referring only to her as “the wee girl” or “the child”.
Mr McCann said “wee girl” is a common phrase like “wee lad” and using it was “part of who he is”.
The tribunal said it was clear there was friction between Ms Murray and management due to a poor working environment and employment practices and, in part, to Ms Murray’s own attitude.
“To put it bluntly, there should have been less shouting and fewer tantrums on the part of the head chef and restaurant manager, Julian Henry, and Ms Murray,” said Mr Kelly, vice president of industrial tribunals.
He added the head chef and the restaurant manager seemed to believe that kitchens are a “uniquely pressurised” environment where a stress and artistic temperament excuse bad behaviour.
But the judge insisted that preparing and serving food, be it at Shu or McDonald’s, was no more stressful than working on an NHS ward or as an engineer at Shorts.
“Such employments do not tolerate shouting, screaming and tantrums in the workplace. Neither should the catering industry. Gordon Ramsay has a lot to answer for.”