THE star TV chef whose restaurant has been dubbed the best in Wales said “the right decision” had been made, after a tribunal found allegations of sexual discrimination against a former employee were unproven.
The Hardwick in Abergavenny, which is run by Stephen Terry, was cleared of 21 counts made by Chloe Maisey, 19, from Pontyclun, at a hearing at Caradog House in Cardiff on Friday.
Miss Maisey, a former pastry chef, alleged that she had fish guts thrown at her, her keys taken and vacuum packed and taped to a wall where she could not reach them and that a chef had threatened to kill her.
After the hearing, Mr Terry, 47, said: “We’re very pleased to accept the tribunal’s findings and their conclusion. It is the right decision. This has been a very disruptive to our work life and family life.”
The tribunal's panel, chaired by Roger Harper, found Miss Maisey had either “lied or wildly embellished evidence to bolster up her claim” and that she had made no record of the alleged incidents.
Mr Harper said she had never followed up any of her claims, such as being burned with a hot tray or sprayed with a hot water hose, with a more senior member of staff or recorded them in the kitchen’s accident book.
And the tribunal heard that on leaving the restaurant after 11 weeks' employment Miss Maisey wrote a letter to Mr Terry thanking him.
She wrote: “Thank you for the amazing experience you have given me but unfortunately I will be leaving due to long hours and issues at home. I have had a very enjoyable time working for you and look forward to meeting you in the future.”
Mr Harper said the panel was “impressed with the professionalism of (the) kitchen staff”. The Hardwick was named best in Wales for the second year running by the National Restaurant Awards last October.
On one of the few events where Miss Maisey gave a date for alleged sex discrimination, the tribunal found she moved the incident forward a few weeks in an attempt to strengthen her claim.
A chef, Andrew Fellows, joked to Miss Maisey that he was cooking a chocolate sauce that had gone bad and that she should try it so she would know what a similar one would taste like in the future. It was actually beef fat and Miss Maisey, a vegetarian, ate the sauce.
The tribunal found it was “an unpleasant prank” but that it had nothing to do with her gender and was not discriminatory.