Abu Dhabi // A fine levied against a British chef for storing expired yoghurt at a restaurant in the Emirates Palace hotel was cut by almost Dh77,000 yesterday by an appeal court. Last month, PH, a chef at the French restaurant Etoiles, was fined Dh92,000 (US$25,000) by Abu Dhabi Municipality after the yoghurt was discovered in the kitchen during a routine inspection. The appeal court reduced the fine to Dh15,000.
A further appeal to the Court of Cassation is possible. PH was the ranking restaurant employee on the scene and was told to sign the inspection report. The municipality then fined him Dh70,000 for failing to educate the staff about the emirate's food expiration laws, Dh20,000 for storing the expired yoghurt, and Dh2,000 for the municipality's fees. PH appealed against the fine, and the Appeals Court heard the case on July 13.
PH told the court that he was the chef responsible for the kitchen at the time of the incident, but that he was not the head chef at the restaurant, as several publications including The National had reported. "The sentence is reduced to Dh5,000 for the first charge and Dh10,000 for the second and third charge," the appellate judge said yesterday. He did not give a reason for the reduction in the fine or explain why PH had been held responsible.
"I should not be the one charged with this," PH said at the July 13 hearing. "I signed the documents, but I did not understand that I would be the one charged. I am only an employee." A spokesman for the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority appeared to agree, saying: "When we do find someone in violation of the law, we go after the establishment such as the restaurant or the hotel. Article Seven of the food law states that very clearly. We are watching this case very carefully."
The Emirates Palace hotel declined to comment on the verdict yesterday. In an open letter to The National on July 15, Hans Olbertz, its general manager, said the Emirates Palace hotel was not responsible for Etoiles. "Etoiles is an independent tenant operator within the Emirates Palace campus and employs its own staff," he said. "I would like to make it clear that in no way should this be seen as a reflection of the standards applied across the primary Emirates Palace operations."
PH has 30 days to appeal to the Court of Cassation, which is the final step in Abu Dhabi's legal system. email@example.com