Welsh chef attacked kitchen worker after critic AA Gill called his food 'disgusting'

by Kerstin Kühn, Monday 15th August 2011 15:10

A chef in Wales who attacked a member of his kitchen brigade after AA Gill described his food as "disgusting" has blamed long working hours for his violent outburst.

Charlie McCubbin, chef-proprietor of the River Café near Hay-on-Wye, Powys, flew into a rage after the comment from Sunday Times restaurant critic Gill at the end of his meal.

However, in his review Gill gave the River Café four out of five stars, saying the restaurant was "well worth the detour, if not from London, then definitely from anywhere else in Wales."

Magistrates were told McCubbin swung a punch at kitchen worker Keith McVaigh before pushing him down stairs and tussling with him. During the assault McCubbin used "foul" language "worthy of Gordon Ramsay".

Prosecutor Helen Tench said McCubbin "appeared intoxicated". "He kept going in and out of the kitchen and said to Mr McVaigh: 'When you've finished that you can f**k off and not come back'," she said. "McCubbin then took a swing at Mr McVaigh, which did not connect, before pushing him down three steps."

McCubbin admitted assault and causing harassment, alarm or distress. However, he blamed working a 17-hour day during this year's Hay Festival for the outburst.

The court heard that McCubbin's GP had referred him to a psychiatrist whose assessment was: "He is a man who has simply worked to exhaustion point and snapped."

Bruce Gray, defending, told the court: "Shortly before the incident AA Gill, the respected food critic, came in. At the end of his meal he was asked whether he enjoyed it and in his rather flippant manner, his response was: 'Disgusting'.

"I say this to give you some idea of the stress of working in an environment where reputation is everything.

"The incident that led to this was that a cellar door had been left unsecured all that night and that was the straw that broke the camel's back."

The court heard Mr McVaigh, had since made a statement saying he no longer wished to see McCubbin prosecuted. The chef was given an 18-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 costs.

After the hearing, McCubbin said: "I had been so busy and had had to sack a couple of my employees for various things. I was at the end of my tether and was so upset and this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"I've been compared to Ramsay but to be honest sometimes I make him look tame. Keith is a mate of mine. I've apologised and there are no hard feelings."

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By Kerstin Kühn

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