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Michelin-starred chef leaves job after alleged hazing in kitchen

By Xiaofei Xu, CNN

(CNN) — Aurélien Largeau, chef at the Michelin one-star restaurant La Table d’Aurélien Largeau, left his position on December 21 “following concerning allegations and imagery regarding an incident in the premises of the hotel,” Hyatt Group confirmed to CNN Thursday.

Hyatt Group owns Hotel du Palais, located in the southwestern French beach town of Biarritz, where Largeau had his restaurant.

“Due to our company policy and to respect the privacy of everyone involved we cannot comment any further,” Hyatt Group said in its statement to CNN.

“The incident did not reflect the strong values we all stand for, and the appropriate decisions have now been taken. The security, wellness and wellbeing of our colleagues, guests and partners are always our utmost priorities,” the statement said.

The “concerning allegations and imagery” were first reported by Sud Ouest, a prominent French newspaper in the region.

A young assistant was tied naked to a chair, in front of members of the restaurant’s staff and in the presence of French chef Aurélien Largeau, according to Sud Ouest, based on multiple sources who chose to remain anonymous.

“Videos were recorded and shared on social media, showing the victim with an apple in his mouth and a carrot in his buttocks,” Sud Ouest said in its article first published on December 26.

After news broke of the incident, Largeau gave a statement to CNN affiliate BFMTV denying any allegations against him calling them “defamatory and false statements” and a “monstrous attack” on his “honor” and his “formidable teams.”

BFMTV also reported that the Bayonne Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched a preliminary investigation into the incident.

The videos circulating on social media have since been removed, according to Sud Ouest and BFMTV.

According to the restaurant’s website, Largeau took the helm of Hotel du Palais’ kitchens in 2020 and helped obtain a Michelin star for the restaurant.

Toxic kitchen culture has been in the spotlight in recent years as many chefs and restaurants have been called out for alleged abuses.

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