The chef at a three-Michelin-star eatery in Brooklyn dictated that lesser pieces of meat be given to Asian customers and Upper West Siders, a new lawsuit charges.
César Ramirez (pictured above) of Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare — which charges a flat $255 per person plus a $50 “service charge” each — was blatant about his biases, according to the suit filed by some of his former sous chefs and servers.
He openly prohibited Asian customers from being placed too close to him at his section of the Downtown Brooklyn restaurant’s chichi counter, routinely referring to them as “s- -t people,” ex-server Emi Howard alleges in the suit.
And when it came time to distribute cuts of meat during the fusion French-Asian meal service, Asians — along with suspected Upper West Siders — were given inferior scraps, while preferred diners were given choice chunks, the suit says.
“When a large piece of meat was cut into many pieces for the guests, Defendant Ramirez instructed Ms. Howard to give the worst pieces of meat to the ‘s- -t people,’ i.e. Asian people, and to Upper West Siders,” the suit states.
When an Asian patron was once placed close to Ramirez during one of his culinary cabarets, the chef boiled over with rage at Howard, who is Asian, the document states.
“On one occasion, Ms. Howard ‘violated’ Defendant Ramirez’s discriminatory rule by seating Asian individuals close to his spot at the center of kitchen counter,” the suit states.
“In response, Defendant Ramirez subjected Ms. Howard to a wild verbal tirade.”
“Mr. Ramirez from then on took control of the seating, so that he could ensure that no Asians be sat next to his place.”
Howard and four other former employees also accuse Ramirez and owner Moe Issa of cutting them out of tips and bilking them out of overtime pay.
The plaintiffs claim in the suit that the restaurant automatically charged a 20 percent gratuity for each bill but that servers never saw a dime of those $50 tips.
They also say Issa and Ramirez refused to pay staffers overtime, even when they worked more than 70 hours a week.
Howard and fellow axed staffers Kyle McMahon, Loren Mash and Santos Hernandez are seeking unspecified back pay and damages.
Issa said in a statement that the restaurant was an equal-opportunity environment.
“We pride ourselves on the diversity of our staff,” the statement read. “And we welcome everyone who comes through our doors.”
I am deeply saddened to write that it has been reported that former employees have filed a lawsuit with allegations of racism and wage withholding against me. I am writing to say that these allegations are false.
With great humility I write here today to ensure all who are reading this that I am not a racist and I have never been. I am fortunate to work with a talented staff who come from all over the world and I value each and every one of these individuals and the knowledge and experiences that they bring. I myself immigrated to the United States as a child and it is a culmination of many cultural experiences that have guided me professionally and personally. My culinary skills and inspirations are derived from working for and learning from professors during my apprenticeships in Japan, Europe, and across the United States. The Chef’s Table began as a vision that stemmed from these dynamic experiences that have made an impact in my life.
The suit was brought forward by Maimon Kirschenbaum, an attorney who has made a name for himself for filing class action lawsuits against some of the country’s fanciest restaurants, including Nobu, Jean Georges, and Daniel Boulud’s restaurants.