Gastronomy News Chef

Stephen Terry: Theft of €170,000 from the Top Chef. "An Employee Stole It from Me."

Alessandra Meldolesi
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Compulsive shopping and trips: that's how the financial administrator of a Michelin-starred Welsh restaurant squandered the funds taken from the business. Disheartened by the suspended sentence, the chef is forced to close the restaurant: "The verdict? An absolute joke."

The news 

It's an unbelievable story from The Hardwick restaurant in Abergavenny, in the Welsh county of Monmouthshire. Its chef, Stephen Terry, a pupil of Marco Pierre White and a well-known TV personality in the UK thanks to The Great British Menu on the BBC (which also reported the news), has been forced to close following a theft of £150,000, equivalent to €173,000. The perpetrator of this act was the financial administrator, Nicola Nightingale, who, after diverting the sum, transferred £47,000 to her husband Simon's account. Both of them have already been sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of unpaid work.

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Since March 2020, Terry had noticed accounting irregularities and had inquired about them with Nightingale. Not receiving a response, only a resignation email, he turned to the police. It was revealed that the administrator had not only transferred the aforementioned sum to her husband but also made direct payments to herself amounting to £50,000, inflated her own salary by £6,000, and made further payments to herself totaling €47,000, disguised as paid salaries. Two debts of £40,000 were also contracted in the chef's name without his permission. It appears that the woman suffered from compulsive shopping, as confirmed by the Cardiff court. Part of the money was also spent on trips to Eurodisney and Morocco.

the hardwick
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The announcement of the restaurant's closure was made through social media, with a message of gratitude to the team and the guests who dined there during eighteen years of success. "It's been emotional, Onwards and upwards!" it reads. The chef expressed astonishment at the sentence, which spared the two from imprisonment, calling it "an absolute joke". However, the judge responded that he wanted to avoid harming the education of their underage children. "They stole £150,000 from a small business. We don't make a lot of money; it's a labor of love; it's passion," added the dismayed Terry, who now has a stack of bills to pay to suppliers. 

Cover photo: @Athena Picture Agency

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