Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Ledbury Chefs Praised For Fighting Off Looters In London Riots
Kitchen staff have been hailed as heroes after fighting off a gang of London looters who burst into a two star Michelin restaurant and began robbing customers.
Some 50 masked raiders wielding knives and wooden clubs smashed windows at The Ledbury, in Notting Hill, West London, and started ripping off terrified diners' watches and jewellery.
But the thugs were driven off when a brigade of chefs ran from the kitchen armed with rolling pins. When word got round that the looters were about to return to the posh eatery, staff got the 30-plus diners to hide in the toilets, and then the wine cellar.
Food blogger Louise Yang told how she was caught up in the violence, and how it turned out to the the most expensive evening of her life after thugs pulled her wedding ring from her finger.
The Ledbury before the attack (below) - and (above) what it looks like this morning...
She praised the cooks for going “beyond their call of duty” by protecting customers – a call echoed by thousands on Twitter.
“They were rushing up from the kitchen with rolling pins, fry baskets, and other dangerous kitchen tools and scared off the looters,” Yang (@nakedsushi) said.
“When word came that the looters were coming back a second time, they ushered us into the bathrooms and told us to lock the doors. A few minutes later, they led us into the wine cellar and told us to lock ourselves in there.”
Workers were this morning busy clearing up the mess at the restaurant, and fitting a new wooden door.
The Ledbury's head chef and owner Brett Graham, who was not at the restaurant during the attack, said: "We are open for lunch and dinner tonight - we are not going to be silenced by a bunch of thugs."
Yang said the violence started when she heard several “loud bangs” outside.
“One looter…told me to take off my rings and grabbed my hand, trying to yank them off. His friend tried to help too, but the rings wouldn’t come off and I just yelled at him that I’d take them off myself.“
Isaac McHale was one of the chefs who helped drive off the mob.
“Hi all, yes we were attacked, youths ran in., smashed up the room, all chefs ran up, youths left, came back later.... everyone shook up,” he tweeted. “We all take it very personally, esp us been there since we opened.“
Harry Wilkinson, a chef and food blogger, tweeted how his parents were in the restaurant having an anniversary meal at the time: “Bunch of people smashed the windows in and came in and tried ripping watches/wallets, jewellery off customers.”
The attack was one of hundreds during a third night of looting in London, which has also spread to other cities across the UK.
Other areas ransacked in the capital included Clapham, Hackney, Dalston, Peckham, Woolwich, Lewisham, Enfield, Walthamstow and Tottenham.