It would appear MasterChef Judge and restaurant king George Calumbaris has tarnished his personal brand when it was recently revealed nearly 200 staff at his restaurants have been underpaid $2.6 million. George Calombaris’ company underpaid 162 of the 430 current staff at his restaurants including Hellenic Republic, Gazi and The Press Club which all form part of the chef’s Made Establishment Group over the past six years.
When you have built such a high public profile consistent with excellence in food it also needs to translate to how you run your own food business. Unfortunately for Calombaris this HR “blunder” is the complete opposite of excellence and will definitely harm his public profile, the reputation of his restaurants and the entire Calombaris personal brand.
Personal Brand values and principles are obviously very important to him as they are outlined clearly on his website. His first principle is Philotimo, a Greek word that is without definition however it is considered to be “the highest of all Greek virtues which determines and regulates how someone should behave in their family and social groups. It is mostly about respect and doing the right thing”.
Calombaris moved quickly to accept the blame and tried to show transparency about the matter which many Brand Managers will tell you is the key to keeping his personal brand’s reputation intact. Next step in this ‘master’ stuff up is paying back all the staff and making sure the whole mess is cleared up, then George can work on regaining his public and corporate brand reputation and improving his ‘philotimo’ amongst his employees and those of us including myself who have always enjoyed watching him on MasterChef.