Chef Alyn Williams has been dismissed from the restaurant he led for eight years at the Westbury hotel in Mayfair. News of the surprise separation was first posted by Bloomberg’s Richard Vines on Twitter. He helped win the restaurant a Michelin star in 2012, an award it has retained in each year since.
Alyn Williams at the Westbury continues to trade with the chef’s name over door, following what the chef says was a dismissal for hosting family when the restaurant was closed.
“Alyn Williams would like to announce that his employment as the chef patron at the Michelin-starred Alyn Williams at the Westbury restaurant was terminated against his wishes by the Westbury Hotel at the beginning of October without any notice period or payment for his notice period,” a statement released on behalf of the chef said. “As a result, he is no longer involved with the restaurant.”
A statement on behalf of the restaurant contradicted Williams’ reasons. “Following a tenure of eight years, Alyn Williams has stepped down from the restaurant that took his name, located within The Westbury Mayfair,” it said. “Alyn leaves the restaurant in the capable hands of Head Chef Charlie Tayler, who has worked in the kitchen for over three years.”
According to Williams’ statement, the reason given by the Westbury for his dismissal is that “he used the restaurant without authority to entertain some friends on a Sunday lunchtime when the restaurant was closed.” The statement added: “As there were children present and playing in the restaurant, they claim this constituted gross misconduct which justified dismissal without notice or compensation.”
Williams appealed the decision “pointing out that all food and drink at the lunch was provided by him personally, no damage or loss was suffered by the hotel and the condition of the restaurant was carefully returned to the same state as prior to the lunch.”
Williams says that he had used the restaurant in a “similar way a number of times in the past.” The hotel dismissed his appeal, but he believes he has a very strong case for unfair dismissal.
Andrew Henning, General Manager of The Westbury Mayfair, in a statement released by its representatives made no mention of the circumstances of the dismissal, saying only that “We are very grateful to Alyn for the hard work he has put in whilst at The Westbury. His talent in the kitchen is evident and he’s been a real asset to the team. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours and look forward to seeing what he does next.”
Williams said he was “understandably very upset and disappointed with the dismissal under these circumstances,” adding that it was particularly so, “since I have been employed by the hotel for the past eight years, have had an exemplary employment record and was responsible, through the restaurant, for bringing prestige to the hotel.”
An additional area of contention, and one which Williams is going to pursue through the courts, is the use of his name. “Alyn is extremely unhappy that the Westbury Hotel is seeking to continue to use his name in connection with the restaurant,” the statement said. “Alyn considers it necessary to make it public that he is not in any way involved at the restaurant at the Westbury Hotel and does not consent to, or condone, the continuing use of his name in connection with the restaurant.”
Williams says he has requested that the hotel “remove all references to his name at the restaurant and on the website and to openly inform all customers and the general public that he is no longer the chef.” At the time of writing, the restaurant’s website uses his name extensively. The episode is reminiscent of the struggles of Great British Menu winner James Cochran, whose employers kept his name before starting to sell his recipes last August.
Williams says that the restaurant has taken some minor steps in communicating to customers that he is no longer cooking at the restaurant, but add “they are currently not complying fully with this assurance and are continuing to market the restaurant as the Alyn Williams restaurant.” The prices, too, are unchanged.
“Alyn is currently progressing the legal actions and processes which are necessary to enforce his rights as an ex-employee of the Westbury Hotel and to deal with the improper and continuing use of his name and reputation,” the statement concluded.
More soon as this story develops.