Burger King faces €10K fine for not having menu in Catalan

The fast-food giant has been accused of “violating consumers’ linguistic rights” in the northeastern region of Spain for not including Catalan on its self-service screens. 

burger king catalan
It’s not the first time Catalan authorities ‘have beef’ with the global hamburger franchise. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

Hamburger franchise Burger King is the subject of disciplinary proceedings in Catalonia in the latest chapter of linguistic turmoil in the region. 

Catalonia’s Consumer Agency is currently studying the complaint of a customer who noticed that the self-service screens of the fast-food restaurant no longer included the menu or ordering options in Catalan.

“The electronic panel did not show Catalan as an option, so customers have not been able to order in our own language, a fact that contravenes the code and the law of Catalonia’s Generalitat,” wrote Xavier Dengra i Grau.

The complaint, which was initially filed two years ago, will now be studied by the Consumer Agency to assess the “alleged violation of consumers’ linguistic rights or the failure to comply with the linguistic obligations established by law”.

If found guilty, Burger King would have to pay €10,000 for what’s considered a minor infraction in Catalonia’s consumer code.

According to Catalan law, all manner of businesses in the region have the legal obligation to communicate or offer services in Catalan. Catalogues, contracts, pamphlets and restaurant menus therefore have to be in Catalan as well as Spanish. 

It’s not the first time Catalan authorities ‘have beef’ with the hamburger franchise empire.

In 2019, the regional government’s labour inspection committee ruled that Burger King’s ban on male employees having beards infringed workers’ rights. 

But it’s the linguistic debate raging in the region that’s a particularly prickly subject, given the connection the Catalan language has to the region’s identity and in many cases the separatist views of some of its inhabitants.

READ ALSO: Why Catalan separatists are in crisis five years after independence vote

The latest divisive matter has been focused on Catalan vs Spanish in schools. A ruling that 25 percent of school lessons in Catalonia have to be in Spanish is reportedly not being respected by Catalan authorities.

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Meet the Spanish twin chefs who earned a third Michelin star

When they were just eight years old, Spanish twins Sergio and Javier Torres set a goal: they wanted to become chefs who were among the top in their field.

Meet the Spanish twin chefs who earned a third Michelin star

To achieve this they strategically split up to get training in different esteemed kitchens around the world, published books on cooking and presented a popular TV show.

The plan worked.

Over four decades after they surprised their family by saying they wanted to be chefs, Sergio and Javier’s Barcelona restaurant, Cocina Hermanos Torres, was awarded a third Michelin star last month.

“We developed a plan, that I think is a perfect plan,” a smiling Javier, 51, said at the restaurant, one of only 13 in Spain and Portugal with the top three-star ranking from the prestigious French guide.

“When we started to go out of Barcelona we thought that Sergio would take one path, I would take another, and we would never coincide until we were ready,” he added.

The journey took the twins – who grew up in a working-class Barcelona neighbourhood – to different elite restaurants in Spain, Switzerland and France.

Before moving to Paris where he worked with top French chef Alain Ducasse, Sergio spent two years at the award-winning Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier which is also run by twins – Jacques and Laurent Pourcel.

“We were separated but every month we met up in a restaurant, ate well, we spent the little money we had and developed the next steps of our strategy,” said Sergio as sat beside his brother.

READ ALSO: These are Spain’s new Michelin-starred restaurants

Grandmother influence

Each brother specialised in different areas – one learned to cook meat and vegetables, the other fish and bread, he added.

Both siblings credit their grandmother for their passion for cooking. She was part of a wave of people who moved from the southern region of Andalusia to the more industrialised Catalonia in the northeast in search of better life following Spain’s devastating 1936-39 civil war.

“Our grandmother looked after us, and since she was in the kitchen all day we literally grew up in a kitchen,” said Sergio.

After earning two Michelin stars with their previous project “Dos Cielos” and becoming familiar faces thanks to their participation in a cooking show, they decided to open Cocina Hermanos Torres in 2018.

The twins visited some 200 possible locations before settling on an industrial building near Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou football stadium.

They invested nearly €3 million to convert it into the restaurant, which seats a maximum of 50 people in tables with no wall separating them from the three work stations where staff prepare meals.

“We wanted to reflect what we experienced in our childhood, which was a kitchen and a table, and everyone around the table,” said Javier.

‘Difficult road’

The tasting menu costs €255, with another €160 if it is paired with wine, a stiff price in a country where the monthly minimum wage is around €1,000.

READ ALSO – REVEALED: Spain’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants

Praised for its creative and playful cuisine, among the dishes served is cured squid with poultry broth and an onion soup with Parmesan cheese and truffles.

“You will experience flavours that you have never experienced before, because you will discover a cuisine where you will like what you don’t like,” said Sergio.

On a recent visit at noon 50 staff members – many of them young – are busy at work finalising details before customers arrive.

“It seems like today a chef is like a ‘super star’. It’s a very difficult road, very difficult, with long hours and it’s very hard to make it, it takes tremendous perseverance,” said Sergio.

“You have to risk it, go for broke, give it your all, because if you don’t, you are not living,” he added with a smile.