“George the thief!”: MasterChef judge slammed for branding Curtis Stone a thief after $8 million wage theft saga
George Calombaris has faced a hefty $200,000 penalty for underpaying 515 restaurant staff members between 2011 and 2017 by nearly $8 million.
And during Sunday night’s episode of MasterChef Australia viewers slammed the celebrity chef for labelling Curtis Stone a “mustard thief”.
Curtis joined George and Gary Mehigan to take part in a Mystery Box challenge and during the cook off, he snuck into the “banned” pantry for some sauce.
The challenge required the chefs to only be able to use a limited amount of ingredients which were chosen by the contestants and one item from the garden.
Not entirely happy with his rainbow trout dish, Curtis had a plan: “I wish I had a little bit of mustard. Do you think I can sneak into the pantry?”
He then put his cunning scheme into action by telling the contestants: “Distract Matt [Preston], I’m going to go get some mustard.”
But it didn’t take long for Matt to realise what was happening, as he immediately flashed a yellow card and forced the 43-year-old to sit out for three minutes.
George, who was oblivious to what had just happened, asked Curtis: “What happened to you?” and upon hearing, yelled out: “Noooo.”
While it may have been a humorous moment, viewers took to Twitter to point out the irony of George labelling someone a thief.
“The awkwardness of when George accuses another chef of being a thief,” one user wrote.
“Irony abounds as Curtis Stone self-identifies as a ‘mustard thief’ to George who replies ‘hold my beer’,” said another.
“I’d rather be a mustard thief than a wage thief,” wrote a disgruntled viewer.
“No one cares what George the Thief has to say,” said another.
The 40-year-old has been hit with a $200,000 fine for underpaying 515 members of his staff by close to $8 million.
Issuing a statement to The Herald Sun, he apologised and said he is “deeply sorry for what has happened”.
“There are two important things for Australians to know. The first is when we discovered there were incorrect payments to members of their team, we self reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman and co-operated with their investigation,” George stated.
“The second is that our team members, past and present, have been back-paid in full, and the vast majority repaid before October 2017 in consultation with Fair Work.
“There is no excuse for this, and we have the systems in place now.”
Orlaith Belfrage, a former waitress at George’s Hellenic Republic in Melbourne, demanded for the celebrity chef to be fired from MasterChef.
“George should pay a serious price for this massive theft of workers’ wages,” she told the ABC.
“He should be taken off MasterChef. How many more excuses does George get?”
But Channel Ten is rallying behind the star, as they have shown their full support.
“George and Made Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10. We will not be making any further comment,” said a spokesperson.