Two members of staff at Tom Kitchin’s restaurants have been suspended after allegations were made by former workers.
Some former staff were allegedly punched and dragged by their collars at the Kitchin in Edinburgh.
Twelve former employees of the Kitchin Group have spoken out with allegations about being denied food, water or any breaks, even to use the toilet, during gruelling 18-hour shifts.
One said they developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and lost a scary amount of weight while working for the group, reported The Times.
Representatives from the Kitchin Group said two senior members of staff had been suspended following publication of the allegations.
Tom Kitchin (pictured), who was made Scotland’s youngest Michelin star winner in 2006, opened The Kitchin in Edinburgh
One former chef said he had to go to see a therapist after spending seven months working at the Kitchin.
He said another member of staff forced him to catch a hot iron tray on his forearms, causing significant burns.
He claims it left him with PTSD symptoms and he lost so much weight after just two weeks working there his mother asked if he had a digestive disease. He added: ‘I cannot work in kitchens again.’
He claimed during his first day at the restaurant he witnessed an altercation where a member of staff was pinned up against a wall.
Another senior staff member allegedly flicked boiling water at people if they were not sweeping as quickly as needed.
Front-of-house staff claimed they were sexually harassed, including a claim one individual stole woman’s shirt after it had been ironed – forcing them to fight for it back while semi-clothed.
One former chef said he had to go to see a therapist after spending seven months working at the Kitchin (pictured) in 2017
Another former member of staff claimed she was deliberately burnt. Pictured, inside The Kitchin restaurant
Four years after the opening of The Kitchin, the Castle Terrace was opened. And by 2013 Mr Kitchin had added the Scran and Scallie (pictured)
Four former waitresses and receptionists, speaking anonymously, said they were regularly touched inappropriately or watched as they changed.
One said: ‘It was inconsiderate and disgusting. That’s when you would see the most of him. When you were wearing the least.’
Chef Tom Kitchin’s rise to fame and success
Tom Kitchin, born in Edinburgh in 1977, began his successful career with an apprenticeship in Perthshire’s five-star Gleneagles Hotel.
He learnt from three-Michelin starred chefs in London, Paris and Monte Carlo – including Pierre Koffmann and Alain Ducasse.
His wife Michaela, now a director of the Kitchin Group, met Mr Kitchin while they were both working in legendary Swiss chef Anton Mosimann’s kitchen.
The couple returned to Edinburgh in 2006 and opened nature-to-plate inspired restaurant, The Kitchin.
After just six months it was awarded a Michelin star.
Four years after the opening of The Kitchin, the Castle Terrace was opened. And by 2013 Mr Kitchin had added the Scran and Scallie.
In 2018 the Southside Scran and the Bonnie Badger Hotel was opened.
Meanwhile, Mr Kitchin achieved television fame with regular appearances on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. He has partnered with Edinburgh Gin and the housebuilder Cala, and in 2012 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh Napier University.
One chef claimed she was deliberately burnt by a member of staff.
Another man claimed he lost 8kg because of consecutive 16-hour shifts and just 15-minute breaks.
He claimed to have lost both big toenails after three months because a member of staff would step on his feet every time he passed by.
All the women would regularly go crying to him, he claimed, and he once broke down himself because of the pressure of being shouted at for 20 minutes over a mistake made regarding a bottle of oil.
His claims his hair started falling out and he said he ‘couldn’t carry on’.
Peter Southcott, managing director of the Kitchin Group, said: ‘Following allegations of unacceptable behaviour, two senior members of staff have been suspended whilst these claims are fully and independently investigated. We will not hesitate to take whatever action may be necessary.’
Mr Kitchin, 44, said the kitchens in his restaurants were high-pressure environments where emotions ‘often run high’. He added that behaviour had to match the standards expected of the food and service.
He said he was ‘immensely proud’ of his colleagues and ‘where we have fallen short, we will address and remedy it’.
‘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.
‘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.’
The allegations follow a difficult year for the Kitchin Group, with Mr Kitchin forced to close Castle Terrace amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In April 2021 he tweeted: ‘The hospitality restrictions in Scotland are beyond a joke . . . whose idea is this? Save Scottish hospitality please!’
Meanwhile, Southside Scran has been temporarily shuttered since last July and Mr Kitchin has been forced to make more than 100 redundancies, news he said he delivered ‘personally’ over the phone.
In an interview with The Scotsman he said: ‘I had to make 100 people redundant within my company. A hundred people, phoning them up personally and telling them. Having people crying down the phone. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever had to do in business.’