The elite among France’s esteemed culinary industry are calling for an end to what they describe as a secretive culture that promotes “physical violence, sexual harassment, and hazing” inside some of the country’s most renowned restaurants, reports The Telegraph.
The group includes Guillaume Gomez, the head chef of the Élysée Palace, and Gérard Cagna, a two-Michelin-starred chef, now retired, who wrote the group’s manifesto, Touche Pas À Mon Commis (Hands Off My Range Chef).
The group urges “all great French cooks to solemnly stand up against violence” masquerading as rites of passage in a professional kitchen.
Earlier this year, chef Eric Ripert of the three Michelin-starred restaurant Le Bernardin in New York City, spoke of his conscious decision to change his self-imposed culture of verbal abuse in his kitchen.
“I realized that you cannot do good cuisine, good food if you are terrorized,” said Ripert. “I really work really hard to have a kitchen that is working peacefully, and sometimes we have incidents, I may lose my temper, but after the fact, we go and apologize in front of the cook.”
The call to action reportedly follows an incident from earlier this year, when a station chef at Le Pré Catelan, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, “deliberately and repeatedly scalded his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon on the arm.”
Further investigation from gastronomy magazine Atabula revealed incidents across kitchens ranging from a "slap in the face with a wet fish" to being "stabbed in the calves" with a kitchen knife during instruction.
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.