food & Wine

Joanita Wibowo

"To those I've hurt, I'm sorry": MasterChef’s George Calombaris' wish for forgiveness

"To those I've hurt, I'm sorry": MasterChef’s George Calombaris' wish for forgiveness

MasterChef Australia judge and restaurateur George Calombaris has said that turning 40 years old has helped him reflect on his mistakes.

The celebrity chef, who turned 40 last year, has offered another apology for the scandals involving him in 2017.

“I can’t change what I’ve done or what’s happened,” he told TV WEEK. “I’m certainly remorseful about some of those things, but I’m proud of a lot of things too. To those I’ve learnt from, thank you. To those I’ve taught, I’m honoured. And to those I’ve hurt, I'm sorry.”

Two years ago, Calombaris’s restaurant group was revealed to be underpaying 162 of its employees to a total of $2.6 million. Soon after the reports emerged, he apologised and committed to reimbursing the underpaid staff to their full entitlements. However, a number of employees claimed that they have not received the correct backpay from the restaurant group as late as July 2018.

The father-of-two was also involved in an altercation at the A-League grand final in Sydney, where he reportedly punched a 19-year-old fan in the abdomen. In October 2017, The Downing Centre local court convicted Calombaris of common assault and imposed a $1,000 fine. This conviction was later successfully appealed in January the following year.

In the appeal hearing, Calombaris expressed his regret over the attack, which saw him lose two ambassadorship deals, and said that he was working towards “being a better man”.

“When I know I’ve done something wrong or made a mistake, I’m not upset at anyone, but [rather] that I’ve let them down,” he said. “I’m lucky to have incredible mechanisms and people around me that have helped me get through it.”

Calombaris is now working on a new initiative within his business to raise awareness of the benefits of meditation. 

“We’re doing incredible work with a gentleman called Jonni Pollard, who I believe is probably one of the best mindfulness people in the world,” said Calombaris.

“Hospitality is the country’s biggest industry. I know I want to go out and save this industry through mindfulness because it means something to me, but I can’t do that without getting my team right.”