Acclaimed French Chef at the Center of Bizarre Hazing Accusations

A troubling report from the Hôtel du Palais

Hôtel du Palais
The Hôtel du Palais in 2019.
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

Travel to the Basque coast of France and you may find yourself in the town of Biarritz. Among the places to stay there is the storied Hôtel du Palais, which hosted the 2019 G7 summit and has drawn acclaim for a recent renovation. Writing at The Guardian in 2019, journalist Martin Kettle noted the hotel’s long history, noting that it “was once a favourite of Napoleon III and Queen Victoria.”

Unfortunately, this month the Hôtel du Palais is in the news for something other than international relations or the machinations of heads of state. Instead, the hotel — and specifically, the restaurant within it — is getting attention for the alleged behavior of its now-former chef.

As Kim Willsher reports at The Guardian, at issue here is the behavior of Michelin-starred chef Aurélien Largeau, who began working at the hotel’s restaurant in 2020. According to reports in the newspaper Sud-Ouest, a recently-hired chef was tied up naked for several hours as part of a hazing ritual. The recent hire was also forced to hold an apple in his mouth and a carrot in his — let’s just say “backside.”

Efforts to eliminate hazing rituals such as this, also known as a bizutage, have been ongoing for decades; in 1997, The Independent chronicled the work being done on this front in the realm of education.

The Guardian reports that local police are now searching for footage of the incident, which was rumored to have been shared on social media. A spokesperson for Hyatt, which owns the hotel, told The Guardian that they considered this a “worrying incident on the hotel premises” and that Largeau was no longer working there.

Ken Friedman Settles Sexual Harassment Suit, Leaves The Spotted Pig
The latest development in a saga involving the high-profile New York City restaurant

In a radio interview, Largeau denied any wrongdoing. “I would like to formally deny the allegations made against me by several media outlets, and state that the facts reported in no way reflect reality,” he said.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.