Chef sues Tom Kerridge's pub after stock boiler explodes scalding him

Chef, 28, at Tom Kerridge’s Michelin-starred Buckinghamshire gastropub sues for £150,000 after suffering burns across a third of his body when 100C boiling stock exploded from a pressure cooker

  • Andrew Lewis suffered burns across his body after a pressure cooker exploded
  • The chef, 28, was working at Tom Kerridge’s Hand & Flowers gastropub
  • He is now suing for £150,000 after boiling water scalded over a third of his body

A former chef at Tom Kerridge’s double Michelin-starred gastropub is suing for £150,000 after he was scalded by boiling water during a kitchen accident involving a pressure cooker.

Andrew Lewis was working at the TV chef’s lauded Hand & Flowers – the UK’s only pub with two Michelin stars – when a boiling stock water exploded out of an urn.

Mr Lewis, 28, suffered scalds across more than a third of his body, leaving him permanently scarred, suffering flashbacks and mentally traumatised.

He had been attempting to fix a leak on a stock boiler by tightening the tap.

He is now suing The Hand and Flowers Ltd, of West Street, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and IPM Catering Ltd, of Kettering, Northamptonshire, the company responsible for servicing the stock boiling urn, claiming up to £150,000 compensation.

Former Hand & Flowers chef Andrew Lewis (left), is suing Tom Kerridge’s restaurant and the company responsible for servicing the stock boiling urn that exploded and covered him in boiling water for £150,000

 Tom Kerridge’s restaurant is being sued by a former employee, who claims the stock boiler which exploded was faulty and defective

The Hands & Flowers (pictured) was opened in 2012 and was the first pub in the UK to be awarded two Michelin stars

Mr Lewis says he was effectively exposed to a ‘trap’ and that one or other of the companies was negligent in ‘failing to ensure he was adequately protected from the risk of burn and scald created by the unintended ejection of the stock’.

And according to documents lodged with London’s High Court, each of the companies insists the other was to blame for the accident.

The Hand & Flowers gastropub in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, opened in 2005 and is owned and operated by Tom Kerridge and his wife Beth Cullen-Kerridge.

Famed for its £88 steaks, it gained its first Michelin star within a year of opening and a second in the 2012 list, making it the first pub to hold two stars, and was named the AA Restaurant of the Year for 2011-12.

Mr Kerridge on the gastropub’s website explains the Hand and Flowers philosophy, saying: ‘I’m a big believer that food brings people together in a space where they can enjoy not just the flavours, but the company they’re with. I don’t go in for that ‘temple of gastronomy’ thing – I just want people to have a nice time, and that includes the warmth of hospitality.’

Mr Lewis noticed stock was leaking from the urn, when he tried to tighten the tap it suddenly came away from the stock boiler, causing pressurised, boiling stock water to be thrown over him

In court documents, Mr Lewis’ barrister Simon Brindle explains how the accident happened, saying that he had been working at the Hand and Flowers as a demi chef du partie for just over a year when he was injured on October 24, 2018.

During his shift, he was responsible for ‘setting up and switching on’ the ‘stock boiler’ in the gastropub’s back kitchen, ‘a large, free-standing, pressure cooker… a drum on four legs, which has a lid on top and a tap on the front’.

‘Water, vegetables and/or meat (the stock) is placed inside the drum, the machine is switched on and then, once ready, the stock is extracted from the stock boiler via the tap. The stock inside is heated under pressure, resulting in the temperature of the water exceeding 100 degrees,’ the barrister explained.

Having later noticed that stock was leaking from the urn onto the kitchen floor, Mr Lewis ‘first cleared it up, and then attempted to fix the leak by tightening the tap.

‘To do so he crouched down in front of the tap. Unfortunately, as he was trying to tighten the tap, it suddenly came away from the stock boiler, causing pressurised, boiling stock water to be ejected from it and over him.

Tom Kerridge’s (pictured at a fundraising event last month) restaurant Hand and Flowers denies responsibility for the incident

‘As a result of the accident, the claimant suffered 34% partial thickness burns to his left chest, abdomen, left forearm, right forearm and both legs, feet and ankles.

‘He required emergency hospital admission,’ the barrister added.

‘It is the claimant’s case that the stock boiler was faulty and defective within the meaning of the Defective Equipment Act.

How to treat a scald

To treat a burn the NHS recommends you follow this first aid advice:

Immediately get the person away from the heat source to stop the burning

Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes – do not use ice or any creams

Remove any clothing or jewellery that’s near the burnt area of skin

Make sure the person keeps warm by using a blanket

Cover the burn by placing a layer of cling film over it

Use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain

If the face or eyes are burnt, sit up as much as possible

‘The second defendant undertook maintenance, servicing and repair of commercial kitchen equipment, including the stock boiler,’ the barrister said.

He added that Mr Lewis’ ‘primary case’ is that a maintenance engineer employed by IPM failed to secure the tap properly after servicing it.

He continued that IPM deny that claim and contend that somebody employed by the Hand and Flowers was responsible for the tap being loose.

The barrister went on to say that Mr Lewis, of Blackthorne Rise, Tetsworth, Thame, Oxfordshire, ‘has been left with extensive scarring and discolouration on his right leg, left leg, chest, abdomen and both hands,’ which ‘represents a permanent cosmetic disfigurement’.

‘As a result of the accident, the claimant suffered delayed onset post traumatic stress disorder,’ he said.

Mr Lewis ‘has returned to work and is now a head chef at a different restaurant.

‘However, he finds that he experiences significant pain in his legs at the end of the working day.

‘At present, he is able to work through the pain and it is hoped that it will improve with time.

‘Accordingly, and in any event, the claimant claims lump sum damages for the risk that he will suffer a loss of earnings in the future, as a result of his injuries,’ the barrister said.

The defence to the action of both defendants was not available from the court.

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