April 26, 2011
Star Chef, Facing a Suit, Files for Bankruptcy
"GEOFFREY ZAKARIAN has made all the right moves for a celebrity chef. He is a fixture on four Food Network programs, including “Chopped.” Over the years, he has operated a number of high-profile restaurants, three of which have won three stars from The New York Times. He now has two places in fashionable New York hotels and a hand in hotels in Miami Beach and Atlantic City.
But his latest step doesn’t follow the script.
He has filed for personal bankruptcy, a move that could help fend off more than $1 million in legal claims from his kitchen staff at Country in the Carlton Hotel, along with a former partner in the restaurant, which closed nearly three years ago.
Of the 179 creditors listed in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition he filed on April 6 in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn., 152 are former cooks at Country. They are part of a class action lawsuit against Mr. Zakarian and his management firm that claims that when he was an owner of the restaurant and its chef, he failed to pay the workers time and a half for overtime, falsified pay records to shortchange them and deducted from their paychecks for staff meals they were not given. They are seeking $1 million in damages and $250,000 in penalties."
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