Atherton, whose business Social Company operates 16 sites including Berners Tavern and Social Eating House in London, plus a clutch of restaurants across the USA, Australia, and Asia, was reported as saying that the industry had improved “a million per cent”, but “bullying and beasting…will always have to be addressed”, according to the Evening Standard today.
He added: “There’s a fine line between respect and fear. Fear only works for a short period of time. Because that person gets to a certain point where they can’t cope anymore and they leave. A good chef, a good manager, can run a dining room with respect.”
The chef said that kitchens could breed such behaviour because of the stress levels within the working environment, and the high expectations of both staff and customers.
Atherton famously previously worked for chef Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White, both of whom have – through television programmes and elsewhere ‒ become notorious for their kitchen approach, which often included torrents of shouting and swearing at their staff, and sometimes even their customers.
Other chefs have come under fire for supposedly abusive behaviour in previous years, including Tom Aikens of the Tom’s Kitchen group, who is said to have left his head chef role at Pied à Terre in London after allegedly burning a member of kitchen staff with a hot palette knife.
Angela Hartnett has also previously said that she was “bollocked” every day when she worked for the Gordon Ramsay Group at the start of her career, while earlier this year industry charity Hospitality Action – for which Atherton is a trustee ‒ published figures showing that bullying and harassment at work was still the number one reason for visitors to consult its online help sheets.
Atherton most recently opened Japanese izakaya-style site Sosharu in London's Farringdon in March.