A senior chef has been sacked for causing severe burns to a colleague in the kitchens of Calcot & Spa in Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
Nathan Davies received hospital treatment for his injuries after being left with severe burns to his bottom, and later returned to work at the four-red-AA-star, 35-bedroom hotel.
Richard Ball, managing director of Calcot, told The Caterer that the hotel was “shocked and saddened” by what had happened and explained that the perpetrator was immediately disciplined and dismissed for gross misconduct, while a full investigation was launched.
The incident came to public attention this weekend when Nathan Davies published pictures of his injuries to social media, adding that he wished to raise awareness of “how dangerous being in a kitchen can be”. He also alleged previous incidents of bullying over two years.
Ball said that a full investigation, which has involved interviewing every member of the kitchen team, had been carried out into the accusations. At the time of writing the managing director said that no further allegations had been raised “regarding bullying or negative kitchen culture”.
He said: “If any accusations are to be corroborated, we will act immediately.”
Ball added that he wished to correct online rumours that the hotel’s executive head chef Richard Davies was involved in the incident.
“This incident is in no way condoned or representative of our work ethic at Calcot. Calcot has a clear anti-bullying policy and investigates every allegation, acting robustly where necessary as was proved on this occasion. An internal investigation is ongoing to establish any previously undisclosed facts. Calcot remains totally committed to banishing any form of bullying from kitchen culture and will continue to apply zero tolerance if any corroboration emerges around this incident.”
All new team members are presented with Calcot’s policy on bullying called Play Nicely which outlines that the hotel believes that “respect and understanding for each other is as critical as the hospitality and care we show our guests”, and highlights that it “will not tolerate abusive, aggressive or insensitive treatment of employees or colleagues”.
Additionally, managers, including senior chefs, are engaged in ongoing supervisor training which is focused on mutual respect of colleagues and team members. “In the past, when incidents have arisen, our chefs have also been put on a specific internal training programme and we will repeat this immediately,” said Ball.
“The industry suffers from an out-dated reputation of bullying that stems from a previous generation of chefs brought up with a boot camp mentality. We have fully engaged in a battle to wipe this out from our kitchens, and before this sad incident believed we have succeeded. I can assure you we remain fully committed to continue this drive and will always adopt zero tolerance to any proven allegations of bullying.”
Calcot is signed up to the Employee Assistance Programme at Hospitality Action, which provides a confidential helpline to staff with regards to bullying and other problems.
Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action, said: “We assist anybody who is the victim of bullying or harassment and who asks for our help. That could be financial assistance if the person has experienced financial difficulty as a result of their situation, legal advice or psychological support.
“We’d urge anybody across UK hospitality who is concerned that they are a victim or have observed inappropriate behaviour towards a colleague to contact us. We also offer a whistleblowing service whereby employees can call a dedicated number to report concerns which are then shared anonymously with the employer.”
Gloucestershire Police said: “We have received a third party report relating to this and will now be speaking to the victim to obtain a statement and determine if he would like to take the matter further.”