A HEREFORDSHIRE chef who has found himself embroiled in a row after sharing a picture of his restaurant team has hit back at critics.

Thomas Straker, who is understood to hail from the Golden Valley area, grew up on a smallholding in Herefordshire and says he developed a passion for hunting and foraging in the nearby Black Mountains.

He rose to fame through sharing his recipes and dishes on social media platforms including TikTok, where he has 2.1 million followers.

The chef, who, according to his website, has spent the last decade working at top London restaurants including The Dorchester and Dinner, now runs Straker's, a restaurant in London's Notting Hill. 

But he found himself embroiled in controversy after sharing a picture of his team on social media platform Instagram, where he has 1.4 million followers, last week.

The picture showed eight chefs, including Straker, outside the restaurant.

It was quickly picked up by national newspapers including the Daily Mail, after a flurry of comments from Instagram users questioned the fact that the entire team appears to be comprised of white men.

More than 3,400 comments have been posted in response to the picture.

"Oh dear, couldn't find anyone other than white men?" asked Instagram user ev2j, while lesbcookin asked: "Are you afraid of women?"


Many others directly questioned the lack of people of colour on the team, with one commenter, sarahtinycakes saying: "Funny how there's a shortage of hospitality workers who are *female* or *POC*. White males seem to do just fine. Maybe *you* should feel passionately about employing people bringing different perspectives and world views. You're the problem."

Others defended Straker's, pointing out that the team members might be the best qualified for the job.

Straker himself has replied to his commenters saying that people "need to calm down".

"Firstly there is a shortage of chefs/hospitality workers," he wrote.

"Secondly if you feel so passionately please go and gather CVs of any chefs you think we're missing in the team. Solutions not problems. Thank you".

In a further response, posted to his Instagram stories (which disappear after 24 hours), according to The Independent, Straker said many had "rightly pointed out the lack of diversity" in his team and that he was very sorry for his initial response.

The Independent reported that Straker has said he was "absolutely committed" to ensuring diversity in his restaurants, but that he knew it was an area he needed to improve on and that his kitchens are currently not achieving this.