Shamed chef George Calombaris has apologized for the inadequate payment of his restaurant staff.
The 40-year-old hospitality company MAdE has reimbursed employees $ 7.8 million after having received no fines for years.
In his first interview since receiving a $ 200,000 fine for the July 18 offense, Calombaris broke into tears and said sorry to his employees.
Shamed chef George Calombaris has apologized for the inadequate payment of his restaurant staff
& # 39; I want to apologize to my entire team, both past and present, for the effect I have had on them, we have had on them. I apologize to them, & the former Master Chef judge told ABC 7.30.
Calombaris insisted that the underpayment was a mistake and blamed inexperience.
& # 39; I will not forget that afternoon in 2017 when we were there with my new business partners after we had done a full audit for the company and discovered the underpayments, & # 39; he said in the interview that was broadcast on Wednesday evening.
He said that when he opened his first restaurant as an excited 26-year-old, he failed to set up a good enough team to manage finances.
& # 39; The creativity is flying, the ideas are flying, the dreams are there … but the refinement at the back was not there. & # 39;
Calombaris said he did not want to blame anyone and added: & I take full responsibility for this. I apologize. & # 39;
It comes after Daily Mail Australia has reported that the chef's restaurants suffered a few diners who refused to go there after the wage theft scandal.
Anyone for lunch? Gazi Restaurant in the CBD of Melbounre had many empty tables
Two is a crowd! A lonely dinner is in Calombaris' abandoned restaurant Jimmy Grants in St Kilda
The Hellenic Republic in the green Brighton was silent on a Tuesday afternoon on the day of the MasterChef final. The owner George Calombaris can feel the heat after he admits that he has deposed his employees
On a sunny winter afternoon in Melbourne on a Tuesday, on the eve of the MasterChef final for season 11, Calombaris flagship restaurants, long visited by the Melbourne establishment, began to show the excitement of what some have labeled the end from Melbourne & # 39; s love affair with the once sweet chef.
His popular eateries, including Gazi, Hellenic Republic and Jimmy Grants in Richmond and St Kilda, were unusually silent during a visit from Daily Mail Australia on the day of the MasterChef grand finale, with many empty tables and more staff than customers.
In a city that likes to cut a long poppy, Calombaris & # 39; time at the top of Melbourne's culinary garden was already on loan.
When the news came out that he had underpaid $ 2.6 million in staff at his restaurants, his many fans were disappointed.
A depressed George Calombaris was seen as breakfast on the day it was announced that his MasterChef days were over last week
But Calombaris quickly admitted the error publicly and assured an adoring audience that everything would be corrected.
The MasterChef juggernaut rolled on, but the poisonous seed of doubt in the Melbourne cynical culinary scene had been sown.
And earlier this month, the full extent of his underpayment of staff emerged – a whopping $ 7.8 million.
In a court-enforced company with Fair Work Ombudsman, the hospitality group of the famous chef MAdE was forced to pay back all current and former employees who were rewarded with wages.
The company was also hit with a $ 200,000 fine, which was simply condemned as being too soft.
The rise and dramatic fall of George Calombaris has been in the making for years.
You can sit anywhere: a boycott against the famous chef seems to go faster and faster
Similarly, Jimmy Grants was virtually abandoned in Richmond on Tuesday
Like many famous chefs, the restaurants of Calombaris became a place for fans of MasterChef – many who would have to save an annual wage to eat at its more expensive locations.
Many would happily leave with the experience. Some would not do that.
But the personality on the screen of Calombaris would ensure that people kept coming through his many restaurant doors.
How could you not love a man who seemed to nurture, guide and encourage great wannabe chefs?
MasterChef was a feel-good program that ensured that viewers had a quiet moment of joy as they sat down at home to eat their half-baked dinners.
It was feel good food porn and Calombaris was a big part of the ingredients.
But when Calombaris was on the nose after the first reports of wage theft, his run-in with a football match critic threw him in the fire.
Calomobaris beat the 19-year-old man during the A-League 2017 grand finale in Sydney, at a time when he described it as a & # 39; brain arrest & # 39 ;.
Jimmy Grants was disturbingly quiet in the afternoon of the grand final of MasterChef on Tuesday
Nobody seemed to like to sit outside at Jimmy Grants in Richmond
The court heard that Calombaris was the number one cardholder for the Melbourne Victory and was verbally confronted by football fans about the wage dispute.
Calombaris said he lost two important ambassadorial roles within two days after the incident was broadcast on television, including a $ 250,000 deal with Bulla Dairy and nearly half a million dollars a year from the ULR motor group.
This week he lost a lucrative deal with WA Tourism when former employees called him to be dumped at MasterChef.
They got their wish in the morning at the grand finale on Tuesday – the same day enthusiastic diners would have come to the restaurants of Calombaris for a glimpse of the star.
Instead, between 12 a.m. and 2 p.m., hardly a soul was seen venturing into the restaurants of Calombaris.
George Calombaris lashes out at a teenage football fan who called him to the grand A-League final in 2017. The chief was accused and later apologized for his behavior
A boycott against dining in the eateries of the former Master Chef seems to be gathering quickly
Jimmy Grants in Richmond was dead.
The sister restaurant in St Kilda was also very quiet.
The Hellenic Republic in Brighton – the jewel of Calombaris in the crown and the location of all its recent misery – was anything but empty.
Hardly a soul could be seen in the bustling CBD in the Gazi of Calombaris.
Whether things will happen in ruthless Melbourne is a gamble.
The way it looked this week, it looks bleak for the controversial chef.
While social media are flooded with calls to boycott Calombaris restaurants, those who have fallen victim to his wage theft in the Hellenic Republic remain hopeful that he is not without business because of those who still work there.
& # 39; It would be a shame if employees would suffer even more from this very sad saga, & # 39; said an employee.
Calombaris was fined $ 200,000 on July 18 after his hospitality empire had underpaid 515 employees for six years.
The usually bustling restaurant Hellenic Republic in Brighton had plenty of free tables
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