The situation for embattled celebrity chef and MasterChef Australia judge George Calombaris has gone from bad to worse, with Tourism WA dumping him from its latest marketing campaign.
Calombaris has been a regular feature in media headlines recently after he confessed to underpaying staff at restaurants under his hospitality group, MAdE Establishment, by $7.8 million, prompting a widespread backlash against the celebrity chef.
In a move to protect its brand, Tourism WA has since confirmed it has scrapped Calombaris from its domestic ‘Create Your Own Gourmet Escape in WA’ marketing campaign, which launched earlier this month and runs until the end of September.
The campaign included TV and digital ads featuring Calombaris, some of which can be viewed below:
In a statement to Travel Weekly, a Tourism WA spokesperson said: “George Calombaris was a small part of a Tourism WA campaign encouraging people to visit the areas of the state that featured in the recent ‘WA Week’ on MasterChef Australia.
“Given the recent community response due to Mr Calombaris’ issues with the Fair Work Commission, we have paused the parts of the campaign that have featured him and we’re speaking with his management.”
WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia described Calombaris’ actions as “terrible”.
“People should pay their employees what they’re owed and what they deserve, and that’s really disappointing,” he said.
Travel Weekly understands that Tourism WA’s marketing contract with MasterChef – of which Calombaris is a judge on – was separate to its agreement with the celebrity chef.
The reality TV show featured a ‘WA Week’ series earlier this month to promote some of the state’s best local produce and attractions.