One of Antony Worrall Thompson's top chefs and a former Whitton School pupil has told of his shock after the celebrity cook was forced to shut a number of restaurants.
Andrew Thorndyke was told last Friday that the Notting Grill Restaurant in Kensington where he had worked for several years had gone into administration and that he and up to 13 staff would be made redundant.
He said: "I had no inclination it was coming. The company was struggling and the numbers in the restaurant were down. We were still making money at the restaurant but the company wasn't.
"Antony rang me on Thursday evening to call me in for a meeting on Friday morning. All of us thought he was going to tell us about keeping our heads down and carry on working.
"I was called in to see the general manager who told me the company had gone into administration. I and the rest of the staff just stared in disbelief. It was pure shock. Anthony was upset too. The Notting Grill was his first restaurant."
The 57-year-old TV chef has closed several of his other eateries including the Barnes Grill, in Rocks Lane, Barnes, after his bank refused to extend the company's overdraft by the £200,000 he needed to keep them going.
He has hung onto others, including the Kew Grill in Kew, by using his own savings of £250,000 to buy them back from the administrators.
Mr Worrall Thompson told a national newspaper how the demise of his business AWT Restaurants and the loss of jobs had left him in tears.
"It makes me cry," he said. "It is just appalling. I am furious to be honest, that the banks didn't support me."
Meanwhile Andrew is trying to remain upbeat and positive about his prospects.
The 23-year-old, of Crane Way, Whitton, worked for the celebrity chef for eight years.
He got two weeks of work experience in one of his restaurants straight after leaving Whitton School, which progressed to weekends, then onto an apprenticeship.
He spent two years as a sous chef at the Kew Grill, aged 18, before taking up the same role at The Notting Grill.
He was promoted to head chef a year and half ago and has cooked for the likes of celebrities including Jude Law and Sienna Miller.
"It is frustrating being out of work and I intend to stay in the industry as It's what I love," he said. "It has given me bit of time to relax, but I shall try and get a reference from Antony."