If You Can’t Stand the HR Heat…Stay Out of the Kitchen

There’s always fascinating stuff going on where I live but this story has consumed me since I am (1) an HR lady (2) a lover-of-good-food (3) an observer of culturally-significant-moments, and (4) a Louisianian.

In between all the Harvey Weinstein and James Toback and David O. Russell and Bill Cosby and Travis Kalanick and Robert Scoble news…there’s more. Closer to home.

John Besh, native son and famed celebrity chef, has not only been caught with his pants reputation as a business leader/owner down around his ankles, but he’s simultaneously living the nightmare of being sucked into the HR/legal quicksand of EEOC complaints, horrendous Glassdoor reviews, and, more than likely, lawsuits. This story, which broke last Friday with (I’m telling you!) Pulitzer Prize reporting by Brett Anderson, is a gajillion times more relevant to the average American worker than the Weinstein stuff.

Besh is a great chef with numerous restaurants in New Orleans; I’ve dined at 4 and tried a 5th without a reservation so yeah, that meal that didn’t happen. He’s also, apparently, not the most astute business owner.

His restaurant group has been in business for twelve years, has 1,200+ employees, and, until exactly 13 days ago (October 11th), had no HR Department. Not a single HR lady. Not a ONE. You know that’s some BS when the Times-Picayune writes an actual article entitled “Lack of HR in John Besh restaurants seems an anomaly for New Orleans food companies its size.”

Lack of HR is “an anomaly.”  Yeah.

I call it a damn travesty.

Look…I work in the hospitality industry; we’re cost-conscious and our managers “run the show;” often because we have minimal HR/FTE ratios. Plus, let’s be real, the restaurant/F&B industry is a totally different animal; all you HR gals who work in tech or hospitals or insurance companies have no idea. No fucking idea at all.

Don’t clutch your pearls ladies; the ‘F word’ flows smoothly, just as it did in that sentence, from employee to manager to CEO. It’s the perfect adjective uttered by Executive Chefs and Sous Chefs and Dishwashers and Servers. Seriously – read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. (Who, by the way, I love!)

But salty language and curse words are one thing; demanding blow jobs and grabbing genitals and coercing people into threesomes for a promotion (“quid pro quo” for those of you studying for the PHR) are quite another.

Lack of HR? Yeah.


I’ve looked up the new HR Director of the BRG on LinkedIn and I’ve sent her an invite to connect; I want to take her out for a drink.

I predict by day 30 she’s going to need one.


2 thoughts on “If You Can’t Stand the HR Heat…Stay Out of the Kitchen

  1. My sister! I often try to explain to people what is different about restaurant HR and they constantly try to act like they tooootallu get it. I just shake my head and laugh.

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