‘Tyranny’ in the kitchen at famed French chef’s new restaurant


Staff at Joël Robuchon’s new restaurant spoke of 15-hour shifts without a break, insults and, says one, being forced to drink salt water.

This article is freely available. Check out our subscription offers. Subscribe

He is one of France’s most celebrated chefs, but staff at Joël Robuchon’s newest restaurant say they have been subject to verbal abuse and appalling working conditions in revelations that threaten to tarnish the reputation of a culinary superstar, reports FRANCE 24.

Interviewed as part of an investigation by Francetv Info published Friday, kitchen staff past and present at Robuchon’s La Grande Maison hotel and restaurant in Bordeaux, which opened its doors in December, spoke of 15-hour shifts without a break, having insults hurled at them and, according to one former chef, even being forced to drink salt water.

A renowned perfectionist, 69-year-old Robuchon is one of the world’s most decorated chefs with a total of 25 Michelin stars to his name shared among a dozen restaurants across the world.

La Grande Maison is yet to claim a coveted star, but the managers at the luxury establishment, where a meal costs around 200 euros on average, are apparently prepared to pull out all the stops to make sure that changes soon, even if it means placing huge demands on their staff.

“They constantly tell me that I’m a sh*t. The pressure is extreme,” a young chef, using the pseudonym Boris, told Francetv Info during a quick cigarette break outside the kitchen at La Grande Maison.

Working from 9 a.m. until midnight without a lunch break is a common occurrence for the 30 or so kitchen staff at the restaurant, Boris and others told Francetv Info.

Franck Yoke, a chef who worked at La Grande Maison for just two days before the intense conditions, which he described as “no longer a restaurant [but] tyranny”, forced him to quit.

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.

Extend your reading on Mediapart Unlimited access to the Journal free contribution in the Club Subscribe