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Owner of Thai Restaurant in the Middle of a Racism Storm Responds

Andy Oliver says he “personally” and “unreservedly” apologises for commenting (and not acting on) the “highly offensive” posts

Som Saa and Andy Ricker of Pok Pok will do a London restaurant pop-up in August
Som Saa remains at the centre of the row relating to the racist comments and videos attributed to one of its chefs
Ola Smit/Eater London

Over the weekend, a shocked London restaurant industry reacted to the news that east London Thai restaurant Som Saa had sacked a chef, after it had been revealed he was the author of content variously racist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic, gross, and shameful on the internet. The row has drawn responses from chefs, writers, and restaurateurs, including Som Saa’s co-founder and co-head chef Andy Oliver, who had tacitly endorsed one of the offender, Shaun “Boring Thai” Beagley’s most offensive (now deleted, but which have been saved here) YouTube videos, in 2016. At the time, he said the video was “awesome” and “how all Thai food should be taught.” Oliver was repeatedly asked for comment, including from Eater London, on Friday, but did not respond.

Late last night, he released a statement apologising “personally” and “unreservedly” for commenting on the post by Beagley. Though he did not call it out as explicitly racist, he recognised that it had “been identified as highly offensive.” Read the full statement below.

Developments over the weekend included misogynistic threats to Instagram user @midnightbakerliz, who originally drew attention to Beagley’s offensive content on Thursday night. User @alegnami_ (whose account has now been deleted, following allegations that she is Som Saa co-owner Mark Dobie’s partner) commented on Liz’s stories saying: “when they came for Offred” (in reference to the Handmaid’s Tale character who is repeatedly raped) “they came for her womb and her unborn children. I think you need to take a breath.” The threats were reported both to Instagram and to the police.

One Instagram user threatened midnightbakerliz who was among the first to draw attention to the offending posts on Thursday
midnightbakerliz/Instagram

Another London-born “modern” Thai restaurant, Smoking Goat, who had commented on Oliver’s 2016 retweet of the offending post by Beagley with “ha, brilliant” also released an apology last night. In it, the restaurant said it was “disgusted and feel horrible that we have contributed towards understandable hurt and offence.” Smoking Goat, which clarified that Boring Thai had no connections to the restaurant, implicitly suggested that the posts were racist.

Chef-restaurateur Mandy Yin, who recently opened Sambal Shiok on Holloway Road, said that it had made her “incredibly sad to watch the discourse and fall out surrounding race happening in the London food scene.”

Although much of the London restaurant industry has remained silent on the issue over the weekend, some comments from chefs and restaurateurs have reflected a number of the issues raised by the writers and social media users who initially called out Beagley’s conduct.

Chef and owner of the Temper group of restaurants, Neil Rankin said that those who profit from other cultures, it was important that chefs “pay constant attention to [their] own actions and the actions of those that represent us.” Rankin’s full statement below.

Chef Tim Anderson, who cooks largely Japanese-inspired food in his Brixton restaurant Nanban, said he was “ashamed” that he’d been following Beagley. He added that he was “mortified to have tacitly endorsed it.”

Chef Calum Franklin, who runs the Holborn Dining Room, on Friday mocked those who self-pardon their right to ridicule cultures because they have friends from those cultures, or who have earned the respect of those peoples by cooking among those people, in their countries.

Franklin today also addressed the line of argument used by some to pardon Beagley’s online personality, those who claimed that it was an act and didn’t necessarily represent his values or character in real life.

Of the established food media in London, only one national restaurant critic has spoken about the issue. Marina O’Loughlin yesterday tweeted that the “racist chef thing” was “truly shocking — and from a restaurant [she] rated hugely,”

Food blogger and Eater contributor Ed Smith was in a minority when he acknowledged that he had followed Beagley’s Instagram account. He apologised, writing that he hadn’t fully appreciated the extent of offensive material attributed to the chef and YouTube author. He said he would not turn a blind eye again.

Some have labelled the response from Som Saa and Oliver too little, too late, with Irish chef Dave Ahern saying that the firing and apology came only after they had been called out:

This post will continue to be updated as more from the industry react to the story.

som saa

43A Commercial Street, , England E1 6BD 020 7324 7790 Visit Website

Story

199 Tooley Street, , England SE1 2JX 020 7183 2117 Visit Website

Sambal Shiok

171 Holloway Road, London, Greater London N7 8LX

Nanban

426 Coldharbour Lane, , England SW9 8LF 020 7346 0098 Visit Website

Smoking Goat

64 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ

Holborn Dining Room

252 High Holborn, , England WC1V 7EN 020 3747 8633 Visit Website

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