“When we approach another culture’s cuisine we walk a very thin line”: the industry responds to Shaun Beagley sacking

By Georgia Bronte contact

- Last updated on GMT

“When we approach another culture’s cuisine we walk a very thin line”: the industry responds to Shaun Beagley sacking
Following Friday’s sacking of Som Saa chef Shaun Beagley for making racist remarks online, a number of industry figures both from the Thai restaurant scene and further afield have commented on the situation across their social media platforms.

Som Saa founder Andy Oliver furthered the response he gave on Friday​ on behalf of the restaurant, posting a Twitter comment from his personal account. Oliver addressed the criticisms referred to in a Twitter discussion that questioned why he had not fired the chef sooner, and why he had ‘liked’ Beagley’s posts, seemingly supporting his offensive views.

“I’d like to make a comment on the recent events regarding Som Saa’s employment of the individual behind the online persona, Boring Kitchen...”

“We had previously made it clear to him [Beagley] that we objected to his stupid, often utterly offensive social media persona and in the end we fired him. We should have acted much earlier and for that we are both saddened and sorry,” he posted.

“I would also like to personally and unreservedly apologise for commending on one of his videos, which has been identified as highly offensive. I should have recognised how objectionable it was and I am now asking myself hard questions about why I didn’t.”

Holborn Dining Room chef Calum Franklin was quick to condemn Oliver’s response, describing it in a Twitter post as “massively weak”. “Repeatedly referring to a racist, not by his actual name but instead as a "social media persona" is as good as saying he's not racist *it’s just the internet*,” he wrote.

Shoreditch Thai restaurant Smoking Goat also joined the discourse, having been another restaurant called out on Twitter for following Beagley and commenting on one of his posts from 2016.

The restaurant posted on the social media site that it was “disgusted and feels horrible” to have contributed towards hurt and offence. It also clarified that “the author of Boring Kitchen is in no way connected with Smoking Goat now nor has been in the past”.

Chef-patron at Temper restaurant group Neil Rankin used the discussion as a chance to address the restaurant industry as a whole, questioning its attitudes towards racism and the duty that restaurateurs have to ensure their staff do not purport it.

“When we approach another culture’s cuisine and make money off it we walk a very thin line as it is,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We need to pay attention to all of our own actions and the actions of those that represent us. Mocking another culture’s accent or the culture itself is never ok. If we want to move forward as an industry and be thought of as respectful that’s the bare minimum we need to get off the blocks.”

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