Famous chef George Calombaris begged the public to return to his restaurants in the aftermath of his company's $ 7.8 million underpayment scandal.
The 40-year-old said he was too busy to be a young 26-year-old creative in an explosive interview with Leigh Sales about ABC & # 39; s 7.30 on Wednesday evening.
The former Mastcherchef judge was fined $ 200,000 on July 18 after his hospitality empire underpaid 515 employees over a six-year period.
& # 39; You run a million miles an hour to be creative, you know, as someone who can inspire the team with food you cook, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; And you assume that things happen at the same speed in the backup, but they weren't.
& # 39; Just know when you come in – one of our restaurants, know when you pay the bill, that – my people are paid and paid correctly. & # 39;
Famous chef George Calombaris finally broke his silence and apologized to his employees in the aftermath of his company's $ 7.8 million underpayment scandal
& # 39; You think about 13 years ago, you are a young chef, 26 years old. "The creativity is flying, the ideas are flying, the dreams are there … but the refinement at the back was not there," Calombaris said.
& # 39; I want to apologize to my entire team, both past and present, for the effect I've had on them, we've had on them. & # 39;
He seemed to avoid a question about the toll that the scandal had taken on him and stared at the floor for a few seconds.
& # 39; I really love this industry. And I love every opportunity it gives me, & he said as he tried to control his emotions.
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 the full audit for the company and discovered the underpayments, & # 39; he said.
The murdered chef company MAdE was forced to reimburse all current and former employees who had lost their wages.
The $ 200,000 fine of the company is outright condemned as too soft.
& # 39; I am not here to blame anyone. I take full responsibility for this. I'm sorry, & he said.
The 40-year-old (photo) choked tears during an explosive first interview with Leigh Sales on ABC & 7.30 on Wednesday night, because he was fined $ 200,000
Looking ahead, Calombaris would like a & # 39; vote for change & # 39; are in the industry by not avoiding the mistake we made, but also acknowledging that we have solved it & # 39 ;.
Calombaris said his team has no plans to close their restaurants.
& # 39; At the moment there are 642 team members that I absolutely love & # 39 ;, he said.
& # 39; And it is my job as their leader to keep moving forward and continue to deliver this message, not to avoid the mistake we have made, but also to acknowledge that we have resolved it. & # 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.
Last week, his popular eateries, including Gazi, Hellenic Republic and Jimmy Grants in Richmond and St Kilda, were unusually quiet during a visit from Daily Mail Australia on the day of the MasterChef grand finale.
In a city that likes to cut a long poppy, Calintaris & # 39; stint at the top of Melbourne's culinary garden was already borrowed.
When the news came out that he had underpaid $ 2.6 million in staff at his restaurants, his many fans were disappointed.
Calombaris insisted that the underpayment was a mistake and blamed inexperience
& # 39; I want to apologize to my entire team, both past and present, for the effect I've had on them, we've had on them, & # 39; said the former Master Chef judge
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.
The rise and dramatic fall of George Calombaris has been in the making for years.
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.
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.
The squatted company MadE was forced to pay back all current and former employees who were rewarded with wages
There was no chief executive officer, & # 39; people culture manager & # 39; or & # 39; elite finance team & # 39; he now has, he added
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.
Calombaris beat the 19-year-old man during the grand finale of the A-League 2017 in Sydney, in a moment when he described it as a & # 39; brain arrest & # 39 ;.
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.
He lost a lucrative deal with WA Tourism last week when former employees called on him to get dumped at MasterChef
He lost a lucrative deal with WA Tourism last week 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.
Jimmy Grants in Richmond was dead and the sister restaurant in St Kilda was dead silent.
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.
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.
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