This is an exercise that most students did not want to do. Too afraid of the consequences, too much pressure at the thought of being ousted from the big companies. But those who testify provide a startling glimpse of life in the kitchens of gourmet restaurants. At the hotel school in Le Touquet, returning from their internship, some young people between the ages of 16 and 20 write on pieces of paper the violence they have faced during their stay in large restaurants. The testimonies are overwhelming.
For some it was the systematic humiliation that characterized them, for others the harassment. A student says that after leaning against the ground, she received sexual comments about her position. Another explains that after spilling water on her blouse, she heard “don’t change yourself, we love to see that”.
These are not isolated cases. The Instagram account ”
I say no, boss collects more than 200 testimonies that clearly show that in the kitchen violence is never far away.
And if the sentence last year in the attack on a chef tried for rape and sexual harassment made an impression, like the fines for a pastry chef and his clerk for humiliating an intern, the victims are often reluctant to tell what they lived. Catering is one of the only sectors that hasn’t experienced a wave of revelations following the “Me Too” movement.
“With all the chefs who have between one and three stars, the treatment of the staff is not up to par, they all have pans, they squeeze their buttocks so that it does not fall off”says chef Laurène Barjhoux, who is part of Bondir.e.
For the association
Skipthat organizes preventive efforts, and the association”
Respect your kitchen which launched a “Marianne de la cuisine” brand to fight violence and promote inclusion, there is an urgent need: to continue to attract young people, the restaurant world must undergo a profound change, to reconcile friendliness and rigor. A complicated equation in the world of French kitchens, whose organization and vocabulary remain military and where we speak of “brigades” and “gunshots”.
“I reproduced what I had lived“, admits chef Eric Guérin, who has radically changed the way of working.”I threw plates on the walls, pans on the stoves… I yelled at everyone,” he said. The next day I didn’t want to go back to work, I had a lump in my stomach, so we had to shout even louder to show that we were there”.
The topic is also of interest to researchers, especially within
Lyon II University, where Elsa Laneyrie studies the behavior of employees who develop in this sector and have chosen to devote themselves to what they call a “job passion”, even if it means they are exposed to violence. And attempts at new types of restaurants, self-run, in the form of cooperatives, have appeared in recent years… The massive influx of women into catering schools also tends to change mentality. But the road to goodwill is still long.
Abuse included: how to get rid of violence in the kitchen?
A report by Faustine Calmel
Sound recording: Frédéric Cayrou and Gilles Gallinaro
Director: Jérôme Chélius, assisted by Martine Meyssonnier and Gabrielle Audibert
Mixing: Valerie Lavallard
“I make you bloody, my dick?” : waitresses at the forefront of workplace harassmentAudrey Parmentier, Slate, 12/11/2021
Violence in the kitchen: the revelations of 18 key datesAtabula, 16/08/2020
Violence in the kitchen must stop to continue conveying the passion of our profession, Marion Goettlé, HuffPost, 07/12/2021