The industry reacts to Som Saa chef Shaun Beagley's dismissal last week

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th July 2018

The industry reacts to Som Saa chef Shaun Beagley's dismissal last week after it was revealed that he is the author of a series of videos labelled ‘offensive’ and ‘racist’.

Shaun was dismissed last week after it has been revealed that in his (since deleted) videos for 'Boring Kitchen' on his YouTube channel, that he was heard mimicking a south-east Asian accent. Shaun has previously trained at Nahm and Bolan in Thailand and founded the Boring Thai brand in 2017, alongside working as a chef at Som Saa.

He runs the ‘Boring Kitchen’ YouTube channel and also owns the @BoringThai Twitter and @boring.thai Instagram accounts (previously @boring.original.thai.food) which have subsequently been deleted and made private respectively. In some of his text posts, he replaces the letter L with R and in his videos, he is heard mimicking a south-east Asian accent.

Shaun's firing was accompanied by Som Saa issuing an apology saying that the comments made by the dismissed chef were not 'of those of Som Saa or any members of the Som Saa team'.  Whilst many have lauded the restaurant's apology, there has also been some criticism too throughout the industry.

Head chef of Som Saa Andy Oliver has released a statement on social saying: "I'd like to make a comment on the recent events regarding Som Saa's employment of the individual behind the online persona, Boring Kitchen. I and the team as Som Saa care passionately about being open, tolerant and welcoming of people from all backgrounds and nationalities - whether staff or customers. But, through some of my actions and Som Saa's employment of the individual concerned, we have clearly failed to live up to that standard."

He continued: "We had previously made it clear to him that we objected to his stupid, often utterly offensive social media persona and in the end, we fired him. But, we should have seen it more clearly and we should have acted much earlier and for that, we are both saddened and sorry."

He also added: "I would also like to personally and unreservedly apologise for commenting on one of Boring Kitchen's cooking videos which have, quite rightly, been identified as highly offensive. I should have recognised at the time just how objectionable it was and I am now asking myself hard questions why I didn't."

He concluded: "I apologise again to anyone I've offended or let down. I am determined to come out of this episode wiser and more humble."

Leyla Kazim has questioned why Shaun Beagley's behaviour hadn't been identified by the restaurant in the first instance:

In response to Andy Oliver's tweet, Holborn Dining Room chef Calum Franklin has criticised Andy Oliver's response saying: "Repeatedly referring to a racist, not by his actual name but instead as a 'social media persona' is as good as saying he's not racist *it's just the internet*"

Neil Rankin, chef patron at Tempur said that as an industry, that issues pertaining to sexism and racism need to be tacked:

Dave Ahearn has questioned the sincerity of the restaurant apology saying:

On Facebook, chef Trevor Hambley said:

In the video ‘How to make Coconut cream (Thai food)’, Shaun Beagley tells followers to “step one, go down to the jungle and ask the monkey for a coconut.” This voiceover is accompanied by a still of Brixton Market.

In another video, titled ‘Thai Pork & Tomato Relish’, the chef said: “People in Chiangmai not like spicy because they are a bunch of pussies with aids”.

One Instagram user, @midnightbakerliz pointed the offensive content of Shaun’s posts out on her Instagram Story yesterday, and tagged the restaurant in, asking them why they continued to employ the chef.

Som Saa fires chef for offensive social media posts and videos

Writer MiMi Aye (@meemalee) also tweeted about the offensive nature of the content and said: “if you are a white person, speaking in “Ching Chong” accents, making the slitty eye gesture, or writing in faux Chinglish isn’t just tone deaf or bad taste - IT. IS. RACIST.”

She then responded to those defending the chef’s actions with this tweet:

After being tagged in several posts, Andy Oliver, head chef at Som Saa replied to comments on Facebook and said: “I’d like to make it clear that this stuff in no way represents Som Saa. We don’t like it or agree with it. Our passion is to simply cook good thai food, and we would never want to be associated with anything that causes offence. Especially offence of this nature. We’ve made this clear to the author of boring kitchen.”

Som Saa fires chef for offensive social media posts and videos

In a statement on their social media accounts today, the Som Saa team confirmed that Shaun had been dismissed as a result of the content. They said:

“som saa is a restaurant born out of a love and respect for thai food, thai friends and thai culture.

What is more, our team has and and always will be made up of many other nationalities too. Due to the unacceptable comments made by a member of the team on social media he has been let go.

The comments are not those of som saa or any members of the som saa team. We would like to wholeheartedly apologise for any hurt and upset that the comments have caused.”

Shaun was scheduled to cook supper clubs tonight and tomorrow at Weino Bib in Dalston. The owners told Eater earlier today that these have now been cancelled by the chef himself:

“Boring Thai has been cancelled tonight and tomorrow. Shaun himself has cancelled the event hoping to do no damage to our business.

We will continue to host our month long homage to Thai food with Sasha Sarankin and Patcharee Phesprasert. I truly believe that Shaun has only love for Thailand, its people and cuisine, and I hope we can get back to focusing on Trump today as we get ready to close the shop and head to the protest.”

* The Staff Canteen has reached out to Shaun for a comment but are yet to receive a reply

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th July 2018

The industry reacts to Som Saa chef Shaun Beagley's dismissal last week