Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Food flies when diner angers chef

The chef wasn't very complimentary of the diners. Photo / Thinkstock
The chef wasn't very complimentary of the diners. Photo / Thinkstock

New Zealand has found its own answer to foul-mouthed, abusive chef Gordon Ramsay, after an extraordinary, all-in food fight at a neighbourhood Italian restaurant.

When a customer complained about a wrong order at Piccolo Ristorante Italiano, patrons were amazed at chef Georgio Cinderella's fiery response.

After a woman complained her order was wrong, Cinderella, who said his name was spelt like the fairy tale character, stormed around the tables, swore and shouted at customers before ordering them out .

The war of words turned into a brawl, with crockery, wine glasses and punches allegedly being hurled around the room by Cinderella, 61, and the aggrieved diners.

Shocked patrons took to popular review website MenuMania to blast Piccolo Ristorante Italiano in Christchurch after the extraordinary outburst.

One, who would be identified only as Lynley, said she was dining with six other 40-something professionals. Her friend sent her meal back a second time because the restaurant had got the order wrong, she said.

"The chef came out and slammed the plate of food in front of my friend, telling her that if she had problem with his food she could just f*** off."

He then told the restaurant's other stunned patrons they could "all f*** off" if they didn't like his food, Lynley said, before slamming the table in front of her friend and grabbing and shaking his chair.

"Things escalated, with plates and wine smashed on the floor. My female friend was in tears as he pulled her long hair, not letting go. My mate tried to stop him but got punched in the face. The waitress was aghast, and kept apologising as he rampaged."

Other patrons backed her story, including Rachael Fleming, who said she left without finishing her meal and would never return.

Another diner, Mark, said the chef "went crazy". "There was almost a stand-up fight. It was terrible."

However another diner, Anthony, defended the restaurant and pointed the finger at Lynley's group of "troublemakers", saying they couldn't handle their drink.

Yesterday, Cinderella admitted telling several patrons to "f*** off" from the premises, but says he was provoked by their aggressive behaviour.

"A lady said something or other about the meal and I told her 'if you are not happy, then you f*** off'," he said. "She then picked up a salt cellar from another table, threw it around and then she left.

"People at another table said they didn't like the way I spoke to her so I told them if they weren't happy then they should f*** off as well."

The chef claimed one of the male customers picked up a plate and threw it at him as he left. He also alleged another man attacked him with his fists.

"The only time I got a bit upset was when that happened with the plate," Cinderella explained. "That's when all the s*** started.

"Then one of the guys tried to punch me so I twisted his finger and showed him the door while another man tried to kick me in the balls as he was leaving."

Christchurch accountant Peter Blacklaws, the owner of the restaurant, said he was standing by his chef until he had reviewed CCTV footage of the incident. "I am aware of the comments posted on the MenuMania website and I believe there was an altercation in the restaurant that got out of hand," Blacklaws said. "I have spoken to the chef for his version of events and what has been written online is not the whole story. The chef assures me he did nothing wrong but react to an aggressive customer."

- Herald on Sunday

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