The manager of an upmarket Mayfair restaurant was sacked after he complained about the ‘Gordon Ramsay’-esque head chef serving ‘mouse-bitten salami’ to customers.
Restaurant manager Tayfun Hudur became embroiled in a long-running row with award-winning cook Roy Ner, an employment tribunal was told.
Mr Hudur complained the head chef ignored him and shouted at him at high end restaurant Jeru as part of a ‘bullying’ campaign.
Other staff were also left unhappy by Ner’s behaviour, he claimed.
But the panel dismissed Mr Hudur’s gripes with management and instead he was awarded £3,201 for unlawful deduction of wages and unpaid holiday.
Award-winning chef Roy Ner (pictured with Nigella Lawson) was at loggerheads with Tayfun Hudur, the general manager of Jeru restaurant in Mayfair, a tribunal heard
Restaurant Jeru opened in Mayfair in December 2021 but got off to a rocky start, with customers complaining of ‘awful’ food, leaving bad reviews, and one scathing review by a food critic which was published in a national newspaper
The tribunal heard Mr Hudur was appointed restaurant manager ahead of Jeru’s grand opening in December 2021.
New on the London scene, Mr Ner won awards in Australia for his dishes, and has been described as a ‘superstar’ and ‘leading light in Middle Eastern cooking’.
The restaurant bills itself as ‘more than a restaurant’ and that it is ‘guided by the vision of Chef Roy Ner’.
According to an online menu site, it sells Chocolate Aged Wagyu Rib-Eye for £95, French Farm Milk-Fed Lamb Shoulder for £85, and Herb-Crusted Welsh Lamb Rack for £59.
The tribunal heard the restaurant got off to a rocky start, with customers complaining of ‘awful’ food, leaving bad reviews, and one scathing review by a food critic which was published in a national newspaper.
The manager, who was sacked from his £50,000 a year post for poor performance, took the Middle Eastern eatery to the tribunal claiming he had been targeted for raising the hygiene issues and for making the health and safety complaints.
The panel ruled that the restaurant was already working on fixing its pest issues and that his problems with the chef were not in the public interest.
During the hearing, the female floor manager of the restaurant said she resigned after being sworn at by Mr Ner while the restaurant’s resident violinist also quit complaining the chef ‘thought he was Gordon Ramsay’.
Issues between Mr Hudur and Mr Ner also arose, which led to Mr Hudur formally complaining.
A tribunal report said: ‘On February 3  Mr Hudur wrote to Adnan Ozkara [the general manager] confirming a conversation the previous day.
‘The day before that, there had been confrontation with chef Roy about the cleaning of the restaurant floor. The chef was ignoring him.
In May 2022, Tayfun Hudur was sacked as manager of Jeru for ‘untenable relations with kitchen management, low performance… and failing to lead his team’
‘The chef should stay in the kitchen, but was instead interfering, adjusting the lights, complaining about the music, and mixing cocktails. The restaurant was “like a police state”.
‘He thought the chef was upset because Mr Hudur had complained about him.
‘He then said he had seen mouse droppings in the bakery section, and salami had been gnawed by mice.
‘Chef Roy did not want them thrown away and kept them in the bakery display. He attached some photos.
‘He added that four team members had left in the last ten days, others are planning to leave. There was no staff handbook. No proper marketing had been done when they opened.’
He also said ‘customers had complained that the food was tasteless and dry and when reported to the chef he had said that there was nothing wrong with the food and something wrong with the customers.’
The report added: ‘The floor manager, Birgita, who had just left, had been sworn by chef Roy with the F-word.
‘The violinist had left complaining the chef thought he was Gordon Ramsay. There were delays in delivering food orders.
‘The chef was talking behind his back to build a case against him because of his emails. He could not sleep because of stress.’
In March 2022 the Environmental Health Officer that inspected the restaurant rated it a two out of five on the hygiene chart.
The restaurant was taking steps to eliminate its mice issue, the tribunal heard.
In March 2022 Mr Hudur was invited to a disciplinary meeting over ‘poor work performance, failure to fulfil restaurant manager role and lead the front of house waiting team’.
The tribunal was told he was not cashing up, didn’t lead the team, and was not proactive enough.
At a disciplinary meeting he claimed that the chef had served ‘mouse bitten salami to the public’.
In May 2022, Mr Hudur was sacked for ‘untenable relations with kitchen management, low performance, working only for shifts which is around 34 hours per week when we are short of staff, and failing to lead his team’.
He then launched his case against the restaurant, claiming he was sacked for whistle-blowing.
Employment Judge Sarah Goodman dismissed the claims, saying they don’t qualify as whistle-blowing because the arguments with the chef were personal and the restaurant was actively trying to fix the hygiene issues.
The tribunal also ‘discounted the effect of reporting the mouse droppings and gnawed salami’.
The judge said: ‘The restaurant already had measures in place to control mice, though evidently not very effective ones.
‘After the local authority inspection… the fact that Mr Hudur had raised it will have paled into insignificance.
‘The problem had been independently reported and they took immediate action to try to fix it.’
The judge added: ‘Having considered the reasons given by the restaurant, and the context, we conclude that one of the reasons given, namely continued friction between Mr Hudur and the chef, was entirely plausible as a real reason [for dismissal].
‘There was friction between him and the chefs, and it will have made running the restaurant, which already faced poor reviews and mouse infestation, more difficult.’