Chef's River Cafe assault after AA Gill visit to Hay

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River Cafe
Image caption,
Charlie McCubbin owns the restaurant at Glasbury near Hay-on-Wye, Powys

A chef has admitted attacking one of his cooks after criticism from a food writer.

Charlie McCubbin, 51, pushed the cook down steps after Sunday Times critic AA Gill allegedly described the food at The River Cafe at Glasbury-on-Wye, Powys, as "disgusting".

Brecon magistrates gave him a conditional discharge after hearing he snapped after working to exhaustion.

Gill later gave the restaurant a good review.

The court heard McCubbin had thrown a punch at Keith McVaigh, which missed, and pushed him down steps.

He was given an 18-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 costs after admitting assault and causing harassment, alarm or distress.

McCubbin blamed working a 17-hour day during this year's Hay Festival for the incident at his restaurant, on the banks of the river Wye.

Prosecutor Helen Tench said the defendant "appeared intoxicated" on the night AA Gill arrived to review the restaurant.

She said McCubbin swore at Mr McVaigh, 52, and told him that when he had finished, not to come back.

"McCubbin then took a swing at Mr McVaigh, which did not connect, before pushing him down three steps," she said.

He then swore at another man, threatening him and saying he would take his "head off", the court heard.

AA Gill later awarded the restaurant a four out of five rating in the Sunday Times.

Bruce Gray, defending, told the court: "Shortly before the incident AA Gill, the respected food critic, came in.

'Exhaustion point'

"At the end of his meal he was asked whether he enjoyed it and in his rather flippant manner, his response was: 'Disgusting'.

"I say this to give you some idea of the stress of working in an environment where reputation is everything. Mr McCubbin feels he has to check and double check everything.

"The incident that led to this was that a cellar door had been left unsecured all that night and that was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Image caption,
Food critic AA Gill later awarded the restaurant a four out of five rating in the Sunday Times

The court heard that McCubbin's doctor had referred him to a psychiatrist whose assessment was: "He is a man who has simply worked to exhaustion point and snapped."

Mr Gray asked magistrates to sentence McCubbin in the "most lenient way possible" by giving him a conditional discharge.

He added: "He is passionate, hard working, respected and of clean character."

The court heard Mr McVaigh had since made a statement saying he no longer wished to see McCubbin prosecuted.

After the hearing, McCubbin said: "I had been so busy and had had to sack a couple of my employees for various things.

"I was at the end of my tether and was so upset and this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"I've been compared to Gordon Ramsay but to be honest sometimes I make him look tame.

"Keith is a mate of mine. I've apologised and there are no hard feelings."