Celebrity chef George Calombaris thought a teenager was insulting his mother when he assaulted him after the A-League grand final in May, a court has heard.
Mr Calombaris, who appears in Channel Ten reality TV show Masterchef, was due to be sentenced on Frida for assaulting the 19-year-old Sydney FC fan in the stands of the Sydney Football Stadium.
However, Downing Centre Local Court magistrate David Price declined to pass sentence without the assistance of a pre-sentence report.
Mr Price said the assault took place in public and was a “serious crime”.
“The accused pointed at the victim and said ‘you’re a big-mouthed man you dodgy c—‘,” Mr Price said.
“He then punched him in the lower abdomen.”
The 38-year-old pleaded guilty to common assault via his lawyer last month after video emerged of him confronting the fan, then being ushered away by police.
In the video, Mr Calombaris shakes his Melbourne Victory scarf at the victim, who was yelling abuse.
Mr Calombaris then approached the man and shoved him in the chest.
His lawyer, Pat Conaghan said Mr Calombaris thought the teenager was insulting his mother.
“He expressed that he believed the victim had called his mother a c— and took offence to that,” Mr Conaghan said.
He asked the court to impose community service.
“For someone with no prior offences, this is on the low end of the criminal calendar,” he said.
But Mr Price disagreed and ordered a pre-sentence report in order, which would highlight any extenuating circumstances that could impact the sentence.
Mr Calombaris will be sentenced in six weeks.
Chef apologises and won’t attend games
Mr Calombaris spoke using palm cards outside the Downing Centre Local Court and said he would stop going to A-League games for a year.
“I stand down as the number-one ticket holder of the Melbourne Victory and as a true supporter, what I did was wrong and I need to pay the price,” he said.
He said it was “horrible” to watch CCTV footage of the assault in court.
“I apologised to the gentleman that I approached, I shouldn’t have done that. It was wrong. I also apologised to the NSW Police, I’m sure they’ve got bigger fish to fry, pardon the pun,” he said.
“I’m not shy in telling a young kid that I’ve made a mistake and in life. It’s okay to make mistakes – it’s how we fix them after.”
Mr Calombaris would not comment on whether public assaults need to be taken more seriously.
“At the end of the day I’m just a cook.”
Watch the incident below
Some restaurant staff still not paid entitlements
Meanwhile, Mr Calombaris’s restaurant empire has been criticised for failing to meet a deadline to back pay former staff who were underpaid and did not receive their entitlements.
In April, Mr Calombaris apologised after 162 of his company Made Establishment Group’s 430 employees – including staff at his Melbourne restaurants The Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic – were short-changed a total of $2.6 million.
— Kate Cadet (@amyssisterkate) September 8, 2017
On Thursday, the company released a statement that said former staff were still waiting for payments.
“We understand the frustration of our former employees and have apologised for our past poor systems and processes that resulted in employees not being paid their full entitlements under the award. We are committed to resolving this as quickly as possible,” it said.