Disgraced celebrity chef George Calombaris reveals he ‘drank a lot to deal with the pain’ after being ordered to pay back $7.8 million in unpaid wages: ‘I thought I was invincible’
Disgraced celebrity chef George Calombaris has spoken out about being caught underpaying staff in a wage scandal.
The former MasterChef judge lost his hospitality company Made Establishment to liquidators in 2020 after he was ordered to pay back $7.8 million in unpaid wages to 515 current and former employees.
During an interview on Channel Ten’s The Project on Sunday, the 44-year-old said he was “drinking a lot for the pain” after hitting rock bottom.
George Calombaris (pictured) revealed he ‘drank a lot because of the pain’ and admitted he thought he was ‘invincible’ before hitting rock bottom
“There were months of tears, anger and I drank a lot to take the pain away, but then I snapped and said ‘no,'” he said.
Calombaris admitted that he thought he was “invincible” and “could handle anything.”
“I thought I was invincible and I could get through anything because I was taught as a young kid never to say you tried,” he said.
“I probably needed good management as soon as I got on television.”
“There were months of tears, anger and I drank a lot to take the pain away, but then I snapped and said ‘no’,” he said
MAdE, which had 22 companies, collapsed in February 2020 after being ordered by the Fair Work Ombudsman to pay workers millions in unpaid fines.
Calombaris was personally hit with a $200,000 fine for the wage damage, but always maintained that the underpayment was simply a mistake he blamed on inexperience.
The ex-hospitality boss said the payment error was discovered after the company self-reported, but the publicity that followed made it impossible to keep his businesses afloat.
His reputation was further damaged when he was caught on camera assaulting a 19-year-old during an A-League grand final between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory.
Calombaris also admitted that he thought he was ‘invincible’ and could ‘get through anything’
Calombaris was convicted of assault and fined $1,000, but the damage to his name was so bad that his conviction was later overturned.
After hitting rock bottom, he moved his family to Arthurs Seat, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, in March 2020, where he has since adopted a new family and community-focused outlook on life.
Now, high-flying hoteliers and their glamorous wives have given the former reality TV star a fresh start in hospitality by hiring him as culinary director for their luxury beachfront venue, Hotel Sorrento.
Calombaris joined the family business, owned by Rob and Anne Pitt and run by their children, Bridget, Marcus and Myles – who is married to model and Instagram influencer Brooke Hogan – after becoming acquainted with a famous mutual friend, Eddie McGuire .
The former MasterChef judge lost his hospitality company Made Establishment to liquidators in 2020 after being ordered to pay back $7.8 million in back wages to 515 current and former employees
Chronology of Calombaris’ misery
MAY 15, 2014 – The Department of Health is investigating after diners eating at the Hellenic Republic in Kew fell ill. It is later confirmed that norovirus has affected about 100 people
APRIL, 2017 – It has been revealed that approximately $2.6 million in arrears has been paid to 162 employees employed by Made Establishment due to “differences” in payroll dating back to 2011.
10 MAY 2017 – Calombaris is charged with assault after a fight with a 19-year-old at an A-League grand final between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in Sydney a few days earlier
MAY 16, 2017 – Melbourne man David Peter Schreuder is suing Hellenic Republic restaurant and Made Establishment over norovirus encephalitis outbreak
AUGUST 17, 2017 – The chef pleads guilty to assault over the A-League incident
SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 – He delivers his Melbourne Victory No. 1 ticket due to the attack
OCTOBER 20, 2017 – Calombaris fined $1,000 for A-League attack
FEBRUARY 1, 2018 – His assault conviction is overturned on appeal after a court judge agreed with Calombaris’ attorney that he had suffered significant financial and personal losses and was unlikely to offend again
JULY 18, 2019 – The Fair Work Ombudsman fines MasterChef Australia judge and his company Made Establishment $200,000 for underpaying staff at its restaurants by nearly $8 million
JULY 22, 2019 – The Western Australian Government Suspends Its Tourism Campaign With Calombaris Over Fair Work Obudsman Fine
JULY 23, 2019 – Calombaris and fellow judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan leave MasterChef after contract negotiations fall through
FEBRUARY 10, 2020 – It is being reported that Made could fall under voluntary governance, jeopardizing the future of 500 employees across its 18 restaurants.
MAY 2020 – George Calombaris’ Yo Chi Frozen Yogurt chain is being slammed, marking the end of the celebrity chef’s restaurant empire.