Yet another highly lauded French chef is being accused of harassing his staff. According to the Guardian, staff at Pavillion Ledoyen in Paris filed a complaint in December with a trade union against 46-year-old chef Yannick Alléno. The former employees — who were all fired or resigned — allege that Alléno and his second in command Sebastien Lefort demonstrated "violent" behavior against them. Alléno allegedly grabbed a staff member by the shoulder "and kneed him in the thigh." A current staffer notes that "there is virtually no one from the old team left in the kitchen."
Alléno — who is behind the 1,200 page cookbook Ma Cuisine Française — has dismissed the allegations against him as "lies." In a statement to the AFP, he notes that he is "deeply shocked" and plans to "set the record straight." The Culinary College of France — a group that Alléno co-founded — released a statement in support of the chef: "In our business, which above all requires intense labour, stress, and a demand for quality, being rigorous and demanding must not be confused with harassment and violence."
Fellow French chef Joël Robuchon's new restaurant La Grande Maison landed in hot water recently for the same reason. Last month, former kitchen employees alleged that head chef Tomonori Danzaki was a "sadist" who humiliated employees by calling them names and belittling them. One former staffer even alleges that he was forced to drink the cooking water he over-salted. Robuchon has fought back against these claims, saying they were false. Regardless of whether the accusations prove to be true or not, mistreatment and violence are common problems in professional kitchens in France. Apprentice cooks frequently endure insults, slaps, and even punches in restaurants that are often otherwise highly lauded, well-respected establishments.