Earlier this week, news broke that several employees are filing a class action lawsuit against the Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, Brooklyn's only restaurant with three Michelin stars. Besides claiming that these staff were shorted on tips and overtime pay, the suit also alleges that chef Cesar Ramirez discriminated against Asian diners, supposedly calling them "shit people" and serving them the worst cuts of meat. On Tuesday, owner Moe Issa responded to say that the suits claims are false, but Ramirez himself has remained silent until now. Below, his open letter in response to the allegations leveled against him:
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.
Our guests are the reason I put on an apron each day to cook. Whether they are local NewYorkers or traveling from near or far, they bring experiences to the restaurant that would be difficult to replicate anywhere else in the world. We treat the restaurant as our home and everyone that comes here is immensely valued. I am indebted to our guests. I would like to request that those reading this understand that these are allegations and I deny them. This has been tremendously hurtful and damaging to myself and everyone who has contributed to building The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare over the last five years. I acknowledge that these allegations can be hurtful and painful to those reading them as well and I want you to know that I sympathize with you as I personally understand how painful this is.
Throughout my career as a chef, my main goal has been spending time in the kitchen tocreate meals for my guests. Thank you for reading this note with compassion. It will be mycontinued dream to cook for you one day.
With Gratitude, César Ramirez