David Burke’s Restaurant Group Sues Former Chef for Stealing Employees to Work for Him

Burke is accusing chef Chris Shea of bribing three of his employees with higher pay to work at The Wayfarer
David Burke

Jane Bruce

David Burke is a chef and restaurateur and apperaed on Food Network's Iron Chef America.

Chef David Burke’s restaurant group The Burke Group is suing one of his former chefs for bringing over three of his top employees to work for him.

Chef Chris Shea was recently appointed as the executive chef of The Wayfarer in Midtown Manhattan and used to work at David Burke Kitchen. Shea also appeared on the fifth season of Top Chef.

The Burke Group accuses Shea of “blatantly and repeatedly” violating Burke’s contract, which states that employees are not allowed to solicit coworkers 18 months after leaving the restaurant. Shea asked three of Burke’s top chefs to work for him at The Wayfarer.

“Almost immediately after resigning... [Shea] mounted an extensive poaching campaign in which he actively encouraged at least five Burke Group employees — and likely far more — to... join him," the court documents state.

The lawsuit also notes that Shea knew Burke’s employee’s salaries and offered higher pay to those who agreed to work for him.


The Burke Group is seeking legal fees and requires Shea to pay twice his current salary as a penalty for violating his old contract at David Burke Kitchen. The court papers also restrict Shea from poaching more of Burke’s employees.