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Couple claim unfair dismissal at Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feasts

20 July 2011
Couple claim unfair dismissal at Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feasts

A husband and wife who claim they were unfairly given their marching orders from managerial posts at a Jamie Oliver branded catering company must wait to hear the outcome of their employment tribunal fight for compen­sation.

Suzanne and Glen Chadwick told the tribunal at Reading on Monday that they were "stunned" when they were dismissed from Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feasts (JOFF) after being called to a meeting by a former friend and business partner.

The couple had set up their own event catering company called Chilli Pepper, based in Bicester. It counted the Windsor Horse Show among its clients.

During 2009 the Jamie Oliver Group moved in and the couple, along with fresh food expert Nigel Harris, struck a deal, which has since turned sour.

The company became JOFF, supplying public and corporate events with Jamie Oliver-branded food.

But with the Chadwicks still at its head it was making substantial losses, the tribunal was told.

David Parry, for the Jamie Oliver Group, said it was impossible that the couple could have been "stunned" by their dismissal, as they claimed.

He told the tribunal : "The writing was on the wall."

However, the couple insisted that there was no warning and no reason for their sacking was given.

Mrs Chadwick said there were valid reasons for some losses which were not down to them. They included the fact that one employee was pocketing £72,000 per year for two days work each week.

She added that a JOFF appearance at the Winter Wonderland event in London in December was hit by tube strikes and bad weather.

But Mr Parry said they were pointing the finger everywhere but at themselves and said the Wonderland event had been "a disaster". He told Mr Chadwick: "It was run by you. It was a disaster, in terms of finances and in terms of staffing."

JOFF was launched with a big media fanfare in 2010, several months later than planned, with Glen Chadwick as its managing director.

It was expected to take "Oliver's unique approach to food to the world of events," but hit a number of snags along the way, he said.

The £294,000 annual contract with the Royal Windsor Horse Show was lost, the tribunal heard and "staff morale was low".

But the Chadwicks insisted they had been unfairly dismissed and stripped of their directorships.

A ruling on the claims of the Chadwicks is expected within a week.

Fabulous feasts
Jamie Oliver launched Fabulous Feasts, with Glen Chadwick as managing director, in May 2010. The business, billed as a partnership between Oliver and Nigel Harris, was described as an "exciting new concept" in event catering, using British growers and farmers wherever possible. "When I was earning my pocket money as a kid at my Dad's pub, I always loved working on special events like weddings and parties, and this is really what inspired Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feasts," Oliver said on the company's website. The firm has recently catered at London's Lovebox festival, the High Voltage festival in Victoria Park, and it is scheduled to provide its services at Battersea Power Station over Christmas 2011 for a series of 16 corporate events.


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