London - A chef who boasted online how she ‘spiked’ a vegan’s meal has been forced to call police after receiving death threats.
Laura Goodman had spent hours preparing meat, fish, dairy and egg-free dishes for a party visiting her Italian restaurant.
But she was disappointed when one of the group ignored her efforts and ordered a pizza topped with mozzarella – which is not vegan-friendly – off the normal menu.
Venting her frustration on Facebook, Miss Goodman wrote: ‘Spiked a vegan a few hours ago.’ In another message on Twitter, the 47-year-old said a ‘pious, judgmental’ diner had gone to bed ‘still believing she’s a vegan’.
Although she insists she had only meant to be ‘flippant’, her comments prompted a furious reaction and even drew calls for her to be prosecuted for assault. The incident happened on Saturday at Miss Goodman’s restaurant in Albrighton, Shropshire, one of two she runs in the county under the Carlini name.
The TripAdvisor and Google pages of her business have now been bombarded with poor reviews, dragging it down from five stars to one. Plans were under way to hold a protest this weekend and posters have been created warning diners they might be ‘poisoned’.
Last night Miss Goodman’s fiance and business partner apologised for her outburst – insisting she had not served meat and had written the comment after having ‘too much to drink’. Michael Gale, 62, said she had been left feeling ‘almost suicidal’ by the reaction, and police were called to the restaurant yesterday because of the threats.
He said: ‘Laura loves cooking vegan and vegetarian food, because it challenges and there is complexity to it.
‘She came up with some recipe ideas so that they would have more choice than the two or three items on our standard menu.
‘So Laura went off and bought the ingredients for those dishes... on Saturday they showed up and, as is quite within their right, chose dishes off the regular menu. One of them ordered a margherita pizza which is not vegan-friendly.
‘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.’
He said she made the comments on a Facebook page called The Very Boring Group, which encourages contributions about banal everyday events.
Mr Gale said: ‘Since then our world has been turned upside down with death threats, threats of violence, threats of lawsuits from all around the world. 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.
‘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.’
He added: ‘At the time of making the post, it was in the small hours of the morning, and Laura had probably had too much to drink.
‘She had probably overindulged a bit and was angry that they hadn’t chosen to have the dishes that she had prepared for them.She is horrified, embarrassed and deeply sorry.’ He said the restaurant had received phantom bookings and one of the waitresses’ mothers has been contacted. By lunchtime yesterday, hundreds had posted online comments urging Miss Goodman to take down her restaurant Facebook page.
Asha Negahbani wrote: ‘Shropshire restaurant Carlini – best avoided. Chef Laura Goodman spikes meals – not the sort of person you want preparing your food.’ Another poster said: ‘Is sabotaging the food of customers because you don’t agree with them normal practice here? Would it be funny if it was “spiked a girl’s drink”?’
Jess Lewis wrote: ‘Who is the pious and judgmental one here really?’ The demonstration is being organised by Telford Vegan Action, which also wants the restaurant shut down.
Hope Lye, of the campaign group, said: ‘More people are going vegan and ... we will be highlighting this outside Carlini in the hope more people go vegan.’
A Tweet calling for people to email, call, or leave a negative review has racked up hundreds of retweets and likes. One reply said: ‘It’s literally assault upon a person.’ Another said: ‘This seems worthy of a lawsuit.’
Others saw the funny side. Chris Lewis wrote: ‘My sister-in-law is a vegan, her Christmas dinner was, in her own words, the best ever. It was cooked in goose fat.’ Miss Goodman, who was born in Rome, opened her second branch of Carlini in Albrighton in November, adding to one that opened in nearby Shifnal in February.
The couple invested £200,000 in the new venture, creating 20 jobs and receiving rave reviews online.
Veganism is becoming increasingly popular and more than 52,000 people in the UK have signed up to take part in Veganuary, shunning meat, dairy and eggs for January. A spokesman for Shropshire Council said: ‘We have received complaints in relation to this matter and are currently investigating.’