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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
'Stick to cooking' TV chef told
Antony Worrall Thompson
The TV chef has been criticised for his minimum wage comments
TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson should stick to cooking, says the new Economic Secretary to the Treasury Ed Balls.

Mr Balls, a close friend and ex-adviser to Gordon Brown, was reacting to Mr Worrall's comments urging scrapping the minimum wage for restaurant workers.

The chef also hit out at Eastern Europeans and other foreign workers for poor service in UK restaurants.

Mr Worrall Thompson proposed tips should replace the minimum wage to encourage better standards in eateries.

But in his first appearance at the despatch box during Treasury questions Mr Balls said: "I saw this morning in the newspapers the comments of Mr Worrall Thompson who actually said it would be a good idea to abolish the minimum wage for restaurant workers in London.

"Personally, I think he presents Saturday Kitchen very well but I think he should stick to cooking.

"It would be quite the wrong direction to take for our country to have restaurant workers in our country being denied the minimum wage and fairness at work."

What are you experiences? Are you a restaurant worker? Do you earn the minimum wage? Are you a foreign worker in a UK restaurant? What do you think of Mr Worrall Thompson's proposals? Send us your experiences using the form below.

The comments published below reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Antony Worrall Thompson is out of touch. I worked as a waiter when I was a student and only earned 3.60 an hour. I am delighted that such wages are a thing of the past. He thinks that 5.05 per hour is too much, but how much foie gras or lobster would that buy in his restaurant? Time for him to join the real world.
Simon T, Edinburgh, UK

All I can say is fair play to Antony! I am a chef. I enjoy my job but I do have to work long and antisocial hours for the benefit of others eating needs so I think well done to Antony for sticking up for us, Ed Balls is pathetic he obviously doesn't like people standing up for themselves. I'd like to see him do Antony's job or any chef's jobs!
Kathryn Palmer, Southampton

These are obviously the comments of a man that has never had to work on minimum wage. When the rich are so completely out of touch with the poor, how can one social group comment on the other? Waiters, or anyone for that matter, do not wish to earn a living based on the generosity of others and that's what tips are, generosity not mandatory. In my experience working in restaurants, the problems with service, i.e. late meals, are not normally the fault of the waiters but of the kitchen. Perhaps the chefs should work for tips instead?
Martin Cass, Hockley

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