Sponge, shortcrust and scandal – tales of racism, homophobia and fraud…
Updated 12th October 2018 at 2:53pm
It’s old news that baking is now back in fashion. You only need to get Netflix and watch The Great British Bake-Off to be aware of that. But even places where sponge, shortcrust pastry and spun sugar – all things sweet – are everywhere, there’s still a scandal to poison the proverbial cookie dough.
For our latest Industry feature, I present to you a quintet of shocking stories from the world of bakeries within the last few years…
patisserie valerie ACCOUNTING fraud case (2018)
This is the most recent and currently ongoing investigation. The popular pastry café chain’s financial chief, Chris Marsh, has been suspended, arrested and, currently, released on bail. The latest consequence of a reported £20 million hole in their accounts and over £1 million owed to HM Revenue & Customs.
Patisserie Valerie itself has over 200 branches in the UK alone and, unless the company can raise capital, over 2,500 jobs are put at risk or, even worse, the company could collapse.
BACK TO EDEN BAKERY ALLEGED RACISM ROW (2018)
In May 2018, Lillian Green, a local to Portland, Oregon, entered the Back to Eden Bakery six minutes after closing time. The café still had customers inside, finishing their meals and even a few still queuing. Green, who is black, was told by staff members that the bakery was closed and that the customers queuing for service would be the last to be served. Given that the other people queuing were all white, Green took this as an act of racial prejudice, ranted on video about the experience and posted it on social media.
This scandal has divided opinions. On the one hand, it’s clear how Green drew her conclusion about being a black person in a place full of white people and being the only one to get refused service. However, at the same time, it had passed closing time and the staff members who refused to serve Green were only doing their jobs. The owners of the Back to Eden Bakery published an apology on Twitter at the time (which has since been deleted), in which they stated the two staff members in question were fired as a result of Green’s complaint.
For more information on this story, click here.
ashers’ bakery DISCRIMINATION ROW (2016)
You all know this one. About the two Christian cake bakers from Northern Ireland who refused to make a wedding cake featuring a pro-gay marriage slogan. Gareth Lee sued the owners of Ashers’ Bakery, Daniel and Amy McArthur on grounds of discrimination against sexual orientation. The defendants maintained that their actions were based on the message the cake was promoting, rather than Mr Lee himself.
This case has been a true rollercoaster. The McArthurs lost the original case, but have won their appeal unanimously as of 10th October 2018. Either way, the cake in question will go down as one of the most expensive in history, having incurred £450,000 in legal fees so far. The cake itself was only supposed to cost £36.50…
top pot bakery SCANDAL (2013)
We are crossing into Taiwan now, where a renowned bakery faced heavy scandal starting in 2013. The charges: stock manipulation and false advertising, mixed in with a little insider trading (with the alleged involvement of the husband and father-in-law of one of the country’s well-known entertainers, who were indicted and questioned).
The Top Pot Bakery claimed to use all-natural ingredients, but artificial flavourings were discovered to be used in their bread. This incurred a fine and then a prosecutorial investigation when the stocks of the parent company behaved unusually following the bakery’s three-day closure. The charges were dismissed a year later.