George Calombaris' Hellenic Republic sued over 'mass food poisoning outbreak'
Advertisement

George Calombaris' Hellenic Republic sued over 'mass food poisoning outbreak'

It's been a difficult couple of months for celebrity chef George Calombaris.

First, there were the revelations that his restaurant empire had underpaid staff by $2.6 million over multiple years.

George Calombaris is facing legal action over food poisoning at his Hellenic Republic restaurant in Kew.

George Calombaris is facing legal action over food poisoning at his Hellenic Republic restaurant in Kew.Credit:James Brickwood

Then, he was charged with common assault after video emerged of him shoving a teenage soccer fan at the A-League grand final.

Now, the MasterChef star is in more hot water, with one of his flagship Hellenic Republic restaurants facing legal action over an alleged mass food poisoning outbreak.

Advertisement
Inside the Hellenic Republic restaurant in Kew.

Inside the Hellenic Republic restaurant in Kew.Credit:Guy Lavoipierre

North Fitzroy man David Schreuder is suing Hellenic Republic in Kew, along with Mr Calombaris' Made Establishment group, after allegedly eating contaminated food from the restaurant which left him violently ill.

According to a writ filed in the County Court earlier this month, Mr Schreuder claims to have become seriously ill with norovirus encephalitis after dining at the Cotham Road restaurant on Mothers Day in 2014.

At the time, Hellenic Republic was forced to close its doors for 24 hours when dozens of patrons who'd eaten from a set menu complained of vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

An investigation by the Victorian Department of Health subsequently found that a staff member was most likely responsible for the infection of norovirus – a common, highly contagious cause of gastroenteritis.

George Calombaris exchanges words with a fan at the A-League grand final.

George Calombaris exchanges words with a fan at the A-League grand final.Credit:YouTube

"Of the 300-plus diners we interviewed, around 90 reported illness, which could have been associated with eating at Hellenic Republic Kew," a department spokesperson said in 2014.

Mr Schreuder is seeking damages for the injuries which he claims were suffered due to negligence and breach of contract by the restaurant in "causing or permitting the infected food to be served to him".

A spokesman for Made Establishment said in a statement it was "committed to having the highest standards" across its restaurants.

"In May, 2014 we had an incident of an airborne norovirus that unfortunately affected a number of our patrons at a lunch at our Hellenic Republic restaurant in Kew," the statement said.

"We worked with the Health Department, which identified an ill worker as the likely cause of the airborne virus. Our main priority when the incident happened three years ago was in managing any issues with affected patrons and addressing any claims relating to this isolated matter in May 2014.

"At this stage, we have not been formally advised of any new claim dating back to the May 2014 incident."

The law firm representing Mr Schreuder declined to comment further on the case.

Last month an internal audit revealed that 162 of the 430 current staff at Mr Calombaris' restaurants had been underpaid over the past six years.

The MasterChef judge said he was "devastated" by the blunder, which will mean employees will be reimbursed an average of just over $16,000 each.

Loading

Mr Calombaris, a Melbourne Victory fan, was subsequently caught on camera at the A-League grand final losing his temper after the crowd baited him with insults, including one who yelled "pay your staff, you dodgy bastard".

Made Establishment is co-owned by Mr Calombaris and former Swisse vitamins chief executive Radek Sali, who took a 33 per cent stake last year which valued the restaurant group at $20 million.