An investigation has been launched after a Shropshire restaurant chef apparently boasted about “spiking a vegan,” prompting death threats against her.
Laura Goodman, who co-owns Carlini restaurants in Shifnal and Albrighton with her partner Michael Gale, sparked outrage after leaving comments on The Boring Group, on Facebook on 30 December.
One said: “Pious, judgemental vegan (who I spent all day cooking for) has gone to bed, still believing she’s a vegan.”
On the same night, she also posted: “Spiked a vegan a few hours ago.”
Responses to the posts have been overwhelmingly negative, with one member writing: “Congratulations on ruining your businesses. You’re incredibly lucky you haven’t killed anybody with an allergy due to your stupidity.”
“Even if they were an arsehole about their veganism there might be sound medical reasons for it… and even if they weren’t and they were just an arsehole, there’s no justification for being an arsehole right back and feeding them meat on the sly. That just makes both sides wrong,” said another.
Police attended the restaurant on Tuesday after Goodman’s partner Gale reported the couple had received death threats over the incident.
Claiming Goodman has been left “suicidal” over the scandal, the 62-year-old said she had “spent hours” preparing a special menu for a party of vegans but was left “disappointed” when they did not chose what she had prepared, with one ordering a pizza topped with mozarella cheese.
He said: “Laura said that if you were a vegan you’d know that mozzarella is not vegan. So, slightly disappointed that they hadn’t chosen to have what she’d prepared for them, and amused at the thought that they had had that pizza, she made this flippant remark on Facebook.
“It was on a site called the Boring Group, which exists to make the banal things appear interesting. The members are effectively trying to show off, and Laura posted this thing saying ‘I spiked a vegan’.
“We’ve had the police in here, because Laura took screenshots of the many threats that she has received on Facebook messenger.
“Since then our world has been turned upside down with death threats, threats of violence, threats of lawsuits from all around the world. It’s been global.
“The essential story is some vegetarians and vegans went to a restaurant, had vegetarian and vegan food, and left.
“We don’t even know if the person that ordered the pizza was vegan, she could have just been vegetarian, in which case there would have been no problem with her ordering that.
“The only complaint we had from that table was from someone who said that the salad wasn’t very interesting.
“We’ve completely shot ourselves in the foot. We now understand that in the vegetarian and vegan world, saying that you’ve ‘spiked’ someone’s food means that you put meat in it, which isn’t the case here.
“I think that the whole storm that has arisen has come from that word ‘spike’. She deeply regrets that she used it, she didn’t mean to cause offence when she used it, and she’s sorry. She’s sorry not just for us, but for all of the people that she’s offended.
“We cook all of our food here as Italian regional food, we do classic Italian peasant dishes from Sardinia to Sicily, and she revels in cooking authentic Italian cuisine. She’s horrified by what she’s done.”
Debbie Ireland, who is an admin for The Boring Group, told HuffPost UK: “I’m very disappointed in Laura and her attitude. She has as duty of trust, care and standards to all her customers.
“I just hope that the customers concerned are OK and not suffering from any allergies that require them to need a vegan diet.”
A spokesman for Shropshire Council’s regulatory services said: “We have received complaints in relation to this matter and are currently investigating. We’re therefore unable to comment further at this time.”
A statement from Carlini said: “We appreciate the outrage Laura’s ill-judged comment on social media has caused and would like to apologise for what it insinuated.
“She had spent a lot of time designing a special vegan menu for a party, who then decided to choose something from the existing menu – one meal of which was a cheese-based pizza, which isn’t vegan friendly.
“This is what she meant by the Facebook comment – in no way does this excuse the comment and we totally understand the anger it has subsequently caused.
“However, we want to assure everyone that the meals were all prepared to our usual high standards and in accordance with the Food Standards Agency. No meat was used in any of the dishes.
“We are passionate about creating high quality food and all of our chefs are trained to understand the different dietary requirements of our customers, many of whom are vegetarian and/or increasingly vegan.”
Goodman and Gale were the feature of an online article in November, celebrating the launch of their second restaurant in Albrighton after investing £200,000 in the venture.
Gale told BQ Live: “The opening weekend was fully booked within a few minutes of us announcing the opening date on social media and we had already ‘sold out’ for Christmas day.
“It shows the local appetite for fantastic tasting food in an environment that is conducive to great conversation and people enjoying themselves.”
Goodman said: “A lot of my cooking inspiration comes from the fabulous recipes I learned from my mother and ‘Nonna’ when I was growing up in Italy.
“Some of the best food from this part of the world originates from humble regional peasant cooking and I hope to tempt taste buds with some of these popular dishes as well as some lesser-known treats.”