Sunday, April 16, 2006

Signs of a Seedy City

What are the signs of a seedy city? Street crime? Graffiti? How about dodgy dealings in the service industries?

Locals will probably recall that a few of Canberra restaurants (Milk and Honey, the two Holy Grails and Zeffirelli's) got 'named & shamed' in Parliament by Senator Kate Lundy back in February for under-paying some of its kitchen staff. See Stateline's report. I reckon the Pangaea kidnapping story is far more interesting. From The Advertiser's story of 16 Mar 06:

POLICE are investigating allegations that a Filipino guest worker who complained about his pay and treatment at Canberra's Pangaea restaurant was kidnapped in a bid to have him deported.

On October 8 last year, Margarito "Gary" Sorrosa was allegedly awakened by a group of five men who told him he was being sent home.

The men forced him into a car and locked the doors but the alleged kidnap attempt was foiled when the speeding car – which was headed for Sydney airport – was stopped by a police officer near Mittagong and Mr Sorrosa alleged he was being abducted.

The officer drew his gun and arrested and handcuffed Matthew Delander – the brother of Mr Sorrosa's boss, Pangaea's executive chef Ashlee Delander.

The brothers were allegedly among the group of five men who earlier that morning went to the Narrabundah house Mr Sorrosa shared with his girlfriend Ann Cabisidan and four other Filipino workers.

A few weeks ago the ABC reported that the Office of Workplace Services was going to take a look at Pangaea. RiotACT picked up the story too:
The latest on the Filipino cooks…….wonder why Senator Kate didn’t mention this mob in Parliament but did others…..hmmm. Perhaps Harrington Corporation (Pangaea) are ALP supporters?
I think they missed something; here's a bit of Lundy's speech quoted in the Stateline report:
SENATOR KATE LUNDY (Parliament vision) : While originally employed by John Harrington and Ashley Delander in Manila, the workers had been told that they were 'sold' by Mr Harrington to their employer for between $6,000 and $8,000 each.

On a related note, Kingston regulars would've noticed that the conversion of the Tang Dynasty restaurant into another Zeffirelli's was put on hold as soon as the story hit the press and that shortly after all the Zeffirelli's signage disappeared. Cipriani opened for business not long after. So was this a new restaurant or just a rebranding to disassociate the Kingston restaurant from a tainted brand? My bet is on a rebranding; they have the same owners1 and if you eat there & pay by credit card, the receipt is printed with the Zeffirelli's branding. I don't know if anyone boycotted Zeffirelli's after Lundy's speech, but rebranding into Cipriani seems to have worked; it seems to be well patronised most nights.

How many other dodgy capital foodie stories are waiting to be told?

im working at this new place in kingston called "Cipriani"'s owned by the people who own zeffirelli and i used to work at zeffirelli but working at this new place now. shall see how it goes. i think id rather work at zeff's. cipriani is more high-brow dining. gah!
Comment by FearandLoathinginBraydon 3/2/2006 6:55 PM here.

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Posted by Dean @ 4/16/2006 12:26:00 pm

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