Anger as City law’s only Michelin-starred chef ‘forced out’ of Watson Farley & Williams

Exclusive: The famous Philippe Roth exits after 14 years at firm

Lawyers at Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) are struggling to adjust to an underwhelming new culinary regime after its legendary French chef Philippe Roth quit the firm following a decision to outsource the catering.

There is real anger within the shipping and corporate law outfit, whose insiders tell Legal Cheek that “cost savings resulted in our excellent French chef being ignominiously all but forced out.”

Roth, who trained at the two-Michelin star restaurant Le Tastevin in France, was a highly popular figure at WFW where he ran the catering department since 2002. Last the year the firm scored an A* for its canteen in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey, with Roth and his team winning rave reviews for their cooking.

But a decision in the past months by WFW’s management to change its catering set up and bring in a new third-party company has seen Roth exit and the food apparently take a serious turn for the worse. Another WFW source tells us:

Since the decision was taken … the quality has deteriorated significantly; gone are the days of freshly cooked steaks, tuna steak and battered fish all made to order.

A further anonymous solicitor at the firm states that in comparison to before:

We now have some of the worst food imaginable. Utterly, utterly terrible.

What is perceived as a cost-cutting measure has taken place during a period in which WFW has achieved some of its best ever financial results. Over the summer the firm revealed that it had increased revenue by more than 20% to nearly £160 million, while profit per equity partner has soared 27% to reach £608,000. WFW takes on 18 trainees a year and pays them £70,000 when they qualify as solicitors.

A spokesperson for WFW told Legal Cheek:

Philippe chose to leave following the decision to outsource our London catering services. A leaving party was arranged for him, which was extremely well attended, and we wish him all the best in his future ventures.

Roth is already running his own catering company, which by all accounts is doing very well. He declined to comment when contacted for this article.

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30 Comments

Crimbo

When Reading Crown Court loses its canteen, then a poxy coffee machine is installed, which itself has ceased to work…

MY HEART BLEEDS!!!

(9)(1)
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Anonymous

Training at a Michelin-starred restaurant does not make you a Michelin-starred chef – if it did, the place would be falling down with them.

(27)(1)
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Irwin mitchell trainee

I really feel sorry for you guys. It’s just like when they took away half of our chairs and said its one between two from now on you scumbags

(12)(0)
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Frustrated Writer, Bored Solicitor

Alex awoke, as usual, to the sound of his mum calling from the doorway that stood between the house and the small garage that was now his bedroom. Alex’s Mum dispared of her son. He had been so promising, landing jobs at some respected publications before he decided to set up his own online journal. Despite her reservations, he’d promised that he would make it work, and she had of course wanted to believe him. However, it started going wrong almost immediately. No respectable firm would go near the website, and without their prestige her son had to resort to even more desperate ploys to scrape together any penny he could from smaller and smaller and shadier firms.

The Porsche was the first thing to go when the down turn began. Alex had bought the car at the height of his powers, on a high of having signed up Fletchers as a sponsor and with the promise of a steam of Lord Harley articles. However, a big investment in novelty t shirts made on a whim did not quite pan out as hoped and now the monthly hire purchase costs were crippling him, and so instead he ventured on the bus to his office, at first feeling shamed and reluctant.

Although that had helped, the haemorrhaging of cash did not abate. Next the season ticket to Chelsea FC went, then the monthly manicure and pedicure, then the weekly steak dinners at Hawksmore. The final straw was the penthouse apartment. Alex had hung on as much as he could, sitting on the floor where his bespoke Italian leather sofa had been, gazing at the old portable tv that occupied his former flatscreen’s spot. Finally though, the bank had had enough of his promises and missed deadlines, and after returning from a bad day trying to recover some money at the dog track, Alex found his locks changed and a stern notice stating it was no longer his.

That night he had arrived, eyes red from tears begging for a bed. The garage had become his. That was a year ago now.

“Alexander, there’s a phone call for you”.

Alex made a muffled sound before moving his t-shirt covers. “Who is it?” he asked, groggily.

“He didn’t say. He’s called before, was quite insistent on talking to you”.

Alex let out a groan and headed to the hallway where the phone receiver was waiting by its cradle.

“Hello?” He asked impatiently.

“It’s me” a familiar voice responded. “Usual place, ten minutes. Come alone”.

Before Alex could reply the line went dead. He turned back to the living room where he could hear his mum loudly watch Jeremy Kyle. “Mum, I’m borrowing the Fiesta, won’t be long”. Before any response came he had already grabbed the car keys and was out of the door.

In the corner of the multi-storey car park a man stood, hidden in the shadows. He was in his late 50s, dressed smartly enough to look moderately successful but had a look on his face that betrayed his world weary view. He was trying his best to look natural, which came easily, despite the implied danger in the situation for him.

The man saw a small, yellow, late 1980s model Ford Fiesta approaching, gushing black fumes. He instantly recognised the driver and let it an uneasy sigh. This guy just didn’t know how to be discrete.

Alex approached the man. “So what have got for me?” He asked, trying to act breezy. In fact he was shaking like a leaf.

The man reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a white A4 envelope. He passed it over. “This is huge. A chef at a law firm has left. You’ve never published anything like this before, I guarantee it.”

Alex gratefully accepted the envelope. “That’s great, thank you so much” he said, trying not to sound too desperate. After a pause Alex tentatively asked “About your fee…?”

“The usual. And be grateful I didn’t double it. I’m a real reporter. Can you imagine what my life would be like if it got out I wrote for you?”.

Alex nodded and turned away. He was just grateful for any news today.

(43)(3)
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Anonymous

“Shaolin shadowboxing and the Wu-Tang sword style. If what you say is true, the Shaolin and the Wu-Tang could be dangerous. Do you think your Wu-Tang sword can defeat me?”
“En garde, I’ll let you try my Wu-Tang style.”

Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus!
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus!
Bring da mother, bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus!
Bring da motherfuckin’ ruckus!

(1)(3)
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Anonymous

Hilarious, Frustrated Writer. Are you “padding”, billing your clients for writing this stuff? Your piece was accurate save that you didn’t mention Alex’s mum having to kick her way through the empty cans of Special Brew before she could enter the garage …

(12)(1)
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Anonymous

Agree with various above comments. Partners save some overhead and will use the extra profits to spend on lavish meals out, Charlie, escorts whilst on business trips, etc. Perhaps a bit of money in the pot for their privately educated, spoiled brat kids. Meanwhile the junior staff get screwed over. Just typical.

(3)(1)
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