Chop Sue-y: Pastry chef sues Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant after sustaining a chronic wrist injury
November 12, 2019
2 min read
What's going on here?
28-year old chef Sharon Anderson is suing for £200,000 in damages over chronic wrist pain allegedly caused by working in Blumenthal’s Michelin-star restaurant The Fat Duck.
What does this mean?
Anderson worked at the restaurant in Bray, Berkshire from June 2014 to November 2015, where she was allegedly made to carry out tasks that were “too fast, arduous and repetitive”. Her tasks included placing up to 400 individually wrapped sweets a day into small bags using tweezers and making hundreds of chocolate playing cards which involved holding a mould in one hand, weighing around 2 kilograms when full.
Due to the manual dexterity required for the work, Anderson developed a repetitive strain injury (RSI) in her wrist. This triggered bouts of depression and anxiety about her career prospects as she has been left unable to work. In 2015, a physiotherapist concluded that the injury had been caused by “long hours and repetitive work”.
Anderson is also claiming that the restaurant failed to give her proper rest periods or support and “required her to work under time pressure throughout the day”.
What's the big picture effect?
While most of her forearm pain has now resolved, Anderson still suffers from “significant wrist pain” caused by a torn ligament. This causes recurring problems with daily tasks such as driving, heavy lifting and most importantly, cooking.
David Poole, solicitor for Ms Anderson, stated that “in view of her condition, it’s quite difficult for her to find employment. She can’t work as a chef at the moment”.
The restaurant has denied all liability for negligence, stating that Ms Anderson’s work was common for the standard of patisserie found in other “fine dining restaurants”. They argue that Anderson was transferred to lighter duties after complaining about making the chocolate cards and therefore they had provided adequate support. They also submit that the filing of the claim was done too late and only after Anderson found out she could make a claim.
Judge John Leslie in the High Court heard that more medical tests are required to identify exactly what Ms Anderson is suffering from in order to properly quantify her claim. The case is set to return to court in 2020.
The restaurant, which achieved three Michelin stars in a record three years, is renowned for serving eccentric dishes like their “nitro scrambled egg and bacon ice cream”. However, it is important to question the human cost that these creations require.
Report written by Erin Stockdale
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