Discrimination Alleged at Brooklyn’s Chef’s Table Restaurant -- Chef Cesar Ramirez Accused of Racism & Tip Theft

The Guardian reports that Chef Cesar Ramirez, head chef at Brooklyn’s Chef’s Table Restaurant, recently came under fire for alleged racism toward Asian customers.

Former server, Emi Howard, says that Ramirez regularly denied Upper West Side Asian customers the best cuts of meat at his restaurant. In fact, he allegedly often gave them the worst cuts of meat offered. Howard also reports that Ramirez regularly called Asian customers “sh*t people,” despite also having Asian servers on his staff. Ramirez also allegedly told Ms. Howard not to seat “sh*t people” near the kitchen or anywhere else he deemed “his place.”

Ms. Howard says that, when she complained to Ramirez about his “disgusting treatment of Asian people,” she was “subjected to a wild verbal tirade” and eventually fired. One of these tirades allegedly occurred when Howard seated Asian customers near Ramirez despite his orders.

Emi Howard and her co-plaintiffs also complain that Ramirez “withheld tips owed them” and regularly violated several New York minimum wage laws. Ramirez has been characterized as a “spiteful tyrant” who likes to “terminate employees on a whim.” Howard and her co-plaintiffs are suing for damages related to emotional distress, as well as distress related to discriminatory practices in addition to actions against Asian customers.

Attorney Maimon Kirschenbaum represents the co-plaintiffs in their class action suit; he’s filed similar suits against Le Cirque, Balthazar, and other upscale New York eateries. Per The Guardian’s report, Kirschenbaum says he considers the case “particularly egregious.”

Ramirez, who has formerly been accused of abrasive behavior, says the charges are false. He also stated, “I am not a racist and I never have been,” adding he is “deeply saddened.” Ramirez’s restaurant has not yet received formal court papers.

During his time at Chef’s Table, Ramirez has also been accused of swearing at food bloggers and other customers for taking notes on, and pictures of, his food. His response to queries about this was a reminder that restaurant policy prohibits notes and photographs related to the food.