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Friday, October 31, 2008

Manager served disputed gelato



Gelato similar in appearance to that served to the Whytes.
Photo: Brendan Esposito

Dylan Welch and Arjun Ramachandran
October 28, 2008
SECURITY camera footage of an incident in which staff at the Coogee Bay Hotel allegedly served a family a cup of gelato laced with human faeces shows the dessert being delivered to the family by the restaurant's manager.
Yesterday, as the NSW Health Authority sent enforcement officers to investigate the incident, management revealed the gelato had been delivered to the Whyte family by the restaurant manager, Cherie Kennedy, as a "genuine gesture of goodwill".
"She was concerned about the family's experience and she had the idea of offering a complimentary dessert to try and make some amends," said the hotel's general manager, Tony Williams.
When the Herald tried to contact Ms Kennedy yesterday her partner said she would not comment. "Anything she says will be through her solicitors," he said.
Meanwhile, the family's lawyer, Steven Lewis, of Slater & Gordon, also rubbished newspaper reports the family had links to a rival pub as a "Kevin Bacon … six degrees of separation [defence]" - a reference to the pop-culture belief that any actor in history can be linked via their film roles to the US actor Kevin Bacon.
News Limited yesterday reported that Mr Whyte's brother-in-law worked for Keystone Hospitality, which owns Cargo Bar and Bungalow 8. "What is this, the Kevin Bacon … six degrees of separation [defence]?" Mr Lewis said. "My question is: 'Did Kevin Bacon put the faeces in the ice-cream?"'.
Stephen and Jessica Whyte, along with their three young children and another family, were at the hotel to watch the NRL grand final, but after a series of complaints became suspicious when they were given a free bowl of gelato. "The real issue is that we were fed, as a family, shit, at someone's pub," Mr Whyte told 2UE.
Yesterday the NSW Food Authority announced it was investigating, and the hotel's management confirmed it had contacted Maroubra police in preparation for possible criminal charges against anyone who might have tampered with food at the hotel.
"We're seeking the help of the Health Department and the police to help us to get to the bottom of the matter," Mr Williams said.
The hotel has sent the three-litre container from which the gelato was "sourced" to be independently tested, he said. The results are expected back today.
The announcement of the department's inquiry comes as both sides continued to bicker about the veracity of the Whytes' claim and their motive for making it.
On Sunday the hotel alleged the Whyte family had asked for up to $1 million not to take the story to the media. The Whytes replied through their lawyer, saying they had not asked for money, but only responded to a question about money put by Mr Williams during a meeting last week.
Mr Williams also said there was a "question mark" over the sample the family had tested, as they had not let the hotel keep a portion of it for their own testing.
The Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, said the complaint was an "issue of public importance", and the authority would work with the family, the hotel, department officials, council officers and the police as part of its investigation. A spokesman for the authority could not estimate how long it would take.
A spokeswoman for the company that tested the gelato said it would not comment on the results nor on any other tests that had found traces of faeces in food, as those tests involved private clients.

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