Top chef leaves French hotel amid allegations of ‘hazing’ and sexual assault of kitchen staff

A young chef was reportedly tied naked to a chair

Stuti Mishra
Saturday 30 December 2023 10:30
<p>Hotel du Palais, a five-star hotel is situated in southwestern France </p>

Hotel du Palais, a five-star hotel is situated in southwestern France

A renowned Michelin-starred chef has resigned from his position at a prestigious southwest France hotel, following reports of an alleged hazing incident that has prompted a public prosecutor investigation into sexual assault and violence.

Aurélien Largeau, who joined Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz, resigned from his position on 21 December after a report revealed that he was witness to an alleged hazing incident with a new kitchen staff member.

The young chef was reportedly tied naked to a chair, with an apple in his mouth, and a carrot inserted in a demeaning manner, according to a report by the local newspaper Sud-Ouest, which first broke the news.

The footage of the event circulated on social media and it has since been removed, with police actively seeking to retrieve it.

The report claimed that Mr Largeau, the head chef, was among those present during the incident.

Mr Largeau has denied any wrongdoing, labelling the reports as “false and defamatory”.

“I would like to formally deny the allegations made against me,” he told France Bleu radio. “The facts reported in no way reflect reality.”

He condemned any form of mistreatment, hazing, or humiliation, asserting that he would never associate himself with such behaviour.

Although no formal complaint has been filed by the alleged victim, a prosecutor, Jérôme Bourrier, told AFP news agency that he has initiated a preliminary investigation into the matter.

Described as a gastronomic prodigy, Mr Largeau had been at the helm of the Hôtel du Palais’ kitchen since 2020, earning a coveted Michelin star in 2022.

The Hotel du Palais, owned by the Hyatt group, confirmed Largeau’s departure, emphasising that the incident did not align with their values.

“The incident did not reflect the strong values we all stand for, and the appropriate decisions have now been taken,” Hyatt Group, which owns the hotel, said in a statement to CNN.

“The security, health, and well being of our colleagues, our customers, and our partners are our absolute priority.”

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