Ten months after scandal enveloped famed NYC gastropub the Spotted Pig and its owner, Ken Friedman, chef April Bloomfield is finally breaking her silence on the sexual misconduct accusations against her business partner — and her perceived complicity.
In an interview with the New York Times published Tuesday, Bloomfield paints herself as an additional victim — “of her own naïveté, premature success and a manipulative business partner with whom she became so entangled that for years she could see no way out.” But she admits she could have done more. “I failed a lot of people,” she told the Times. “That’s on my shoulders.”
Bloomfield, who came to the U.S. from England in 2003 to lead the Spotted Pig kitchen — her first executive chef job — says she quickly realized she’d have to grow a thick skin to survive under Friedman, saying that the restaurateur frequently told her “he could undo her success with a few phone calls” and once threatened to have her work visa revoked.
The chef claims that while she knew about “some” of Friedman’s inappropriate behavior toward female employees, she was unaware of more serious incidents “that were coercive or physically abusive.” Bloomfield says she confronted her partner multiple times about his behavior, conversations that Friedman acknowledged to the Times through a representative — though he says those discussions also included employees’ complaints about Bloomfield’s own “erratic behavior and verbal abuse” — but that nothing ever changed.
The Times spoke to a number of former Spotted Pig employees, some of whom said “they did not want to contribute to any narrative that might appear to offer her redemption”; others painted Bloomfield as “scary and intimidating,” but felt that she was driven by the pursuit of perfection. Some agreed that Bloomfield failed to act out of fear, while one former server stated that the chef “has always been out for herself.”
As the Times notes, “the breakup of their restaurant group... has yet to be completed,” but Bloomfield will retain control of the Breslin and the John Dory in New York, SF’s Tosca Cafe, and LA’s Hearth & Hound, while Friedman is keeping the Spotted Pig. Friedman’s attempt to partner with Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman to run the Spotted Pig fell through, with the chefs revealing in a New York Magazine story on Monday that they ultimately pulled out of the deal over money — namely, because Friedman is still collecting a salary from the restaurant, something the chefs said they could not ethically or financially support.
Bloomfield says she is now in therapy and undergoing executive coaching, and intends to start reaching out to Friedman’s numerous victims “soon” to hear their stories.
• April Bloomfield Breaks Her Silence About Harassment at Her Restaurants [NY Times]