Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay says he would offer a job to a teenage dwarf who says he has been banned from a college cooking course – because he is a potential health and safety risk.
Louis Makepeace, 18, who stands at a just 3ft 10ins, says he is being discriminating against due to his size after being refused a place at Heart of Worcestershire College.
Michelin-starred TV chef Gordon Ramsay, 51 tweeted to his 6.8million followers: “Disgusting attitude, I’d offer him an Apprenticeship any day.”
Louis claims college bosses branded him a “safety risk” to the other 14 pupils and said he would cause a “disruption” if he got under their feet.
He was originally offered a conditional place for the Hospitality and Catering course on August 16 but said they have now backtracked because he is too small for the kitchen.
Mum Pauline, 56, says the course leader also told her there was no point him doing the course anyway as he would never be allowed to work in a commercial kitchen.
The Gino D’Acampo-mad teenager now fears his dream of becoming a chef is over after his “humiliating” ordeal.
Louis, of Worcester, who has achondroplasia, a form of short-limbed dwarfism, said: “It was really upsetting as I had my heart set on this course.
“We are supposed to have equality of opportunity yet I’m not allowed to do something I love doing.
“They are simply not prepared to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate me such as making the surfaces and hobs lower.
“We were prepared to be flexible and my mum said I could maybe do the cooking at home whilst the new equipment was installed but they kept saying no.
“They said I would be a health and safety risk and disruption to the other students and get in their way, which was really humiliating.
“It really has dented my confidence. How am I ever supposed to get the culinary skills that’s going to get me a job in a catering environment?
“I have always loved cooking Italian recipes since I was little, and keeping myself healthy and fit and I’m a huge fan of Gino D’Acampo.
“All the time I was at school I was always very confident, I had lots of friends and my disability was never an issue.
“But how am I supposed to get by if this is how I’m treated – I feel like I have been excluded from the real world.
“My confidence is shrinking and I feel that people stare and laugh at me. People just think I’m still a kid and will push in front of me in queues.
“I just want to be treated as a normal person without them laughing at me and go around and do quite normal stuff.”
Full-time mum-of-two Pauline said she is still pushing for a final answer from the college but has been told to find Louis another course.
She added: “He’s been really upset by this, he got the initial offer but now they are pulling the rug from under his feet.
“They won’t give me straight answer but when I asked the course leader whether he should find another course he told me it would ‘probably be a good idea’.
“He said it was pointless doing the course as he would never be allowed to work in a restaurant kitchen anyway even if he qualified. It was outrageous.
“He claimed that Louis would be a health and safety hazard in the kitchen to his other pupils so we couldn’t have him standing on a step of some sort.
“Apparently it would take seven weeks for contractors to come in to make adjustments such as a lower surface and lower hobs and they weren’t prepared to wait.
“It wouldn’t be so bad but there was a chap there several years ago who had the same condition as Louie and they adjusted the kitchens for him.
“I would have thought that would have had the same equipment there that he could use.
“I keep getting so irate because we were prepared to be flexible and do work from home video a video-link while the adjustments are made.
“But they just keep fobbing me off with excuses and say he should do another course instead.”
A spokeswoman for Heart of Worcestershire College said: “As the student’s place at the college is still under discussion, we do not wish to make a comment.”
By Ben Gelblum and Richard McAllister