Head chef of popular restaurant pleads guilty to workplace bullying after making apprentice wear a plastic bag over their head and ordering another to drink boiling oil
The chef at a popular Victorian restaurant forced a student to wear a plastic bag on his head and told him to drink boiling oil.
Charles Yates, former chef at Max’s Restaurant in Red Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula, faced Frankston Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
Yates and the restaurant’s owner, Ideal Catering Services, pleaded guilty to charges related to workplace bullying.
The complaint concerned Yates and detailed his treatment of two young apprentice chefs between October 2020 and June 2021.
Charles Yates, former chef at Max’s Restaurant (pictured) in Red Hill on the Morning Peninsula, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges relating to workplace bullying
The court heard Yates forced a pupil to wear a plastic bag on their head with eye holes cut out and continually subjected them to offensive language and behaviour. Herald Sun reported.
On another occasion, Yates told one student to drink boiling oil and another to slit his wrists.
It is understood that one of the student chefs had a neurodevelopmental disorder.
The court heard Yates also threw things at the students, hit them on the head with cabbage leaves and called them things like ‘spazz’, ‘c***face’ and ‘spunkbubble’.
The horrific treatment led to one student resigning in May 2021, while another took weeks of sick leave before also quitting.
The court heard Yates said he meant no harm by his actions and had suffered similar treatment since the age of 14 while working in the hospitality industry.
Yates also faced a single charge of failing to ensure proper care of other employees.
Max’s Restaurant faced three charges of failing to provide a safe work environment and failing to provide appropriate training and supervision.
Ideal catering Director and owner of Max’s Restaurant, Maxwell Paganoni (pictured), was initially charged, but this was dropped
Max’s Restaurant owner Ideal Catering Services also pleaded guilty to charges related to workplace bullying (pictured is Max’s Restaurant)
Well-known industry figure Maxwell Paganoni is director of Ideal Catering Services and also owner of Max’s Restaurant.
The court heard that the restaurant was founded by Mr Paganoni in 1994 as one of the first winery restaurants in the area and had achieved great success, winning several hospitality awards.
Mr. Paganoni was also initially charged, but this was dropped.
The court heard that one of the victim’s mothers reported Yates’ behavior to Mr Paganoni, who had been in a managerial role, but the complaints were not addressed.
“I did everything in my power to rectify the situation,” Paganoni told investigators in a statement, but his defense admitted more could have been done.
WorkSafe said the behavior was “overt and obvious” and any consequences must have “some incentive” to act as a warning to other businesses.
Magistrate Christina Windisch said she needed time to consider all the materials before sentencing Yates and the catering company.
The case was adjourned until next month.