Masterchef’s George Calombaris has been charged with assault after shoving a young man who allegedly heckled him about underpaying his staff.
Police spoke to the celebrity chef after the incident, but he was escorted off the field by his friend and fellow MasterChef Australia judge Matt Preston.
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A man shouted “Pay your staff, you dodgy b-----d,” and Calombaris shoves him and appears to challenge him to a fight.
A police officer appears to have words with him before Matt Preston ushers him away.
Calombaris apologised for his actions in a statement, saying: “I am really disappointed with what occurred last night.”
He also claimed his reaction was in response to other inaudible personal comments about his family.
“I was genuinely shocked when post-match football banter turned into personal abuse about my family,” he said. “I regret the way in which I reacted, I am disappointed that I let it get to me, and I sincerely apologise for offending anyone. While I am not proud of my reaction to the situation, I was offended by a spectator yelling out abusive and derogatory comments about my family.”
Calombaris is expected to face Downing Centre Local Court on June 29.
Incidentally, Preston has made headlines himself in recent days, after ex co-host Marco Pierre White vowed “on his mother’s grave” to “get that man” over comments about his son.
Last month Calombaris had to apologise after it came out he’d underpaid staff at his restaurants a whopping $2.8 million. 162 of the 430 current staff at his restaurants including The Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic were affected.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alerted his company, MAdE Establishment, to payroll problems in 2015, but it was not fully investigated until Troy McDonagh was appointed new chief executive in October last year. MAdE called in KPMG to investigate.
Affected staff will be back-paid an average of just over $17,000 each, according to McDonagh. The recalculation went all the way back to 2011.
Celebrated chef Calombaris sent an impassioned apology to staff:
“You, our amazing team, are the key to our success. I am so sorry we have messed up and let you down on a fundamental issue,” he said.
“I am devastated by what has happened and we have been working extremely hard to fix this. I want to be clear that getting it right means ensuring that every single one of our team members is paid what they are entitled to under the industry award, and that any outstanding money owed to staff is rectified as our highest priority.”