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Ardent Spanish chef’s WhatsApp proposition is a recipe for dismissal

Madrid restaurant fires cook after inappropriate messages to female job applicant go viral

Over the last few days, a WhatsApp conversation between a male chef at a Madrid restaurant and a female job applicant has been doing the rounds on social networks.

“At the moment we are trying someone out, but send me a full-body shot of yourself so I can get a better look at you,” says the head chef at Ástor, to which the applicant responds: “No offense, but I would like to know why you need a full-body shot if I am not serving the public.” The chef then comes clean and declares his true intentions. The conversation is as follows:

Screenshot of the WhatsApp exchange seen on Facebook and Twitter
Screenshot of the WhatsApp exchange seen on Facebook and Twitter

“Hello, I saw your advert on the app Job Today and they gave me your number. My name is **** and I am studying in Madrid. I only have class on Monday and Wednesday afternoon. The rest of the time I am free. I am a very responsible, hard-working 25 year-old girl looking for work to fill up my week and help my mother pay for her apartment. I look forward to hearing from you.”

“Okay. Drop by. Calle Almendra 9 in La Latina.”

“Any day?”

“At the moment, we are trying someone out, but send me a full-body shot so I can get a better look at you.”

“The job is for a cook, isn’t it?”

“No, an assistant cook. I want an assistant.”

“Okay but do I have to serve the public or how does it work?”

“No, I will teach you how to present the dishes and you can lend a hand.”

“I understand. No offense, but I would like to know why you need a full-body shot if I am not serving the public.”

“Well, you’re beautiful and I’d like to get to know you. I could take you shopping or to the cinema and buy you whatever you want if we went out. I’m young, I’ve got a job and I earn a lot and I can buy you whatever you want.”

The WhatsApp conversation was first shared on social networks on March 17 after being posted by Twitter user @suripantarosa. The original tweet, which has since been deleted by the author, explained that the conversation had been sent by a friend of a friend. The story also gained exposure through the El Hematocrítico Facebook page.

Referring to the chef, Ástor’s owner, Andrés Olivares says: “I asked him to look for an assistant weeks ago. I gave him the responsibility and he’s landed us in this mess. This is not our style, far from it.”

When the conversation came to his notice, Olivares promptly fired the chef, who admitted he had addressed the applicant in chauvinistic terms “I don’t know when this conversation on WhatsApp happened,” adds the owner. “On Friday we were serving lunch and some friends started to send us the tweet. It’s been very hard. It was a disciplinary dismissal which he signed, admitting what he did.”

The same day, Olivares published a message on Facebook expressing how much he detested this kind of behavior. “I have taken down the restaurant’s Facebook page until things calm down,” he says.

Screenshot of apology posted on Facebook.
Screenshot of apology posted on Facebook.

“My name is Andrés Olivares. I am the owner of the Ástor restaurant. First of all, I want to offer my apologies to the person who was propositioned and to all those who might feel insulted by what happened. Sorry, really, from the bottom of my heart. I’m going to explain what happened. We asked the kitchen chef to look for an assistant. He used the opportunity to behave like this. As soon as we heard what had happened, he was fired. It was a disciplinary dismissal. I am now trying to get in touch with the woman in question and speak to her personally. I am really sorry. It’s not our style. We hate that kind of behavior. I will post photos of the dismissal and the measures that were taken against the employee who made personal use of a professional role that has nothing to do with our policy. NOTHING. I am very SORRY. The whole team is very sorry. Sorry and very ashamed.”

This is not the first time that this kind of incident has gone viral. In March 2016, a client of the messenger service MRW tweeted that one of its employees had contacted her in the same fashion. “This is not just a piece of nonsense, it’s a crime,” the client concerned told EL PAÍS. At the time, a spokesperson from the consumer and users organization, OCU, said it was “not a common” occurrence.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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