French Culinary School Under Fire for Sexual Harassment and Homophobic Comments

French Culinary School Under Fire for Sexual Harassment and Homophobic Comments

...By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media.

Restaurant Apprentices on Strike in France Over Alleged Sexual Harassment and Homophobic Comments from Teachers


Apprentices at a top French hotel management school are refusing to work in protest against the alleged sexual harassment, homophobic comments, and insults they have faced from certain teachers.

The Vatel group operates 50 hospitality institutes globally, generating approximately €90m annually.

Since March 27, approximately 60 third-year undergraduates in Paris have refused to work in the restaurant to protest against the behaviour of certain teachers there.

The third-year trainees have continued to attend classes but refuse to work in the restaurant.

One female student described the toxic working environment from her first year.

“They’d yell at us every day. They’d tell me, ‘You’re just a piece of shit.’ I was so anxious that in the morning I’d cry and in the evening I’d throw up,” she said.

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The students said that two chefs would yell at them and lose their temper, insult students, and tell them that they were useless and that they would never succeed.

A second female student reported that the head pastry chef touched her back and stroked her arms from her first week of training.

She reported his “inappropriate behaviour” to management, but nothing came of it.

A fourth student, a young man, said he thought the school should do better for the €11,400 each student pays annually in tuition fees.

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He said the pastry chef “throws bowls and whisks at us”.

One day, he said, the chef used a homophobic slur against him and told him: “you won’t amount to anything in this sector”.

A report by investigative website Mediacites in 2020 found that 141 students petitioned Vatel founder Alain Sebban to act against “contempt and lack of respect from teaching staff”.

Management handed the petition to his son Dov Sebban, who runs the Paris school, but the students say they received no reply.


The school’s management stated that they had received only a letter in 2019 with complaints about the school’s administration.

However, in a message from Sebban to students dated March 27, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, he acknowledged that two teachers had been accused of degrading comments and gestures for the first time in 2022.

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The school’s management said that two teachers, a kitchen chef and a pastry chef, had been disciplined, but refused to share the details of their punishment.

On April 5, Sebban sent students a second letter, admitting to “clearly unacceptable” behaviour and promising to hire outside consultants to set up a system to report such incidents, which management said would be in place by September.

The students are on Easter holiday this week and have not yet decided whether to resume their strike when they return.


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