Six chefs have walked out of top London restaurant L'Oranger, owned by A-Z Restaurants, in just one week, fuelling speculation that chefs are not getting the overtime pay they expect.
Sous chef James Younger, three chefs de partie and two commis chefs left within a week of each other in the middle of last month.
Peter Quarrie, one of the chefs de partie, said he resigned from the restaurant on 17 September after 28 days in his new postition because he received only £300 for about 120 hours' overtime work. His wage cheque was also subsequently stopped by the company, he said.
Quarrie said that when he joined the restaurant, head chef Kamal Benamar had assured him overtime pay would be "looked after" and when he complained about being given £300, he was told that as the restaurant had been quiet they could not afford to pay any more.
Legal proceedings have now been issued against A-Z Restaurants by Quarrie in a bid to recover his basic wage. He added that he felt he had been treated "very poorly" by the company.
The mass desertion of the L'Oranger kitchen brigade follows the sacking of former head chef Marcus Wareing in July (Caterer, 30 July, page 7).
Wareing's dismissal came after Gordon Ramsay resigned as head chef of the two-Michelin-starred Aubergine restaurant and as a director of A-Z Restaurants.
Giuliano Lotto, A-Z Restaurants' principal shareholder, was unavailable for comment.
By Noella Pio Kivlehan