Calgary chef Michael Noble charged with sexual assault

Calgary chef Michael Noble charged with sexual assault. He is the owner of well-known restaurants The Nash and Notable.

Police said the chef is accused of assaulting an employee at a work party

Chef Michael Noble owns Notable and The Nash in Calgary. (Anstice Communications)

Calgary chef Michael Noble has been charged with sexual assault. 

On Jan. 29, Noble allegedly followed a 21-year-old woman into a bathroom at a social gathering that took place in the 200 block of Eighth Avenue S.W.

It's alleged he cornered the victim in a stall and sexually assaulted her, before she pushed him away and left the bathroom, the Calgary Police Service said in a release Thursday.

CPS said the woman was his employee. 

On the evening in question, Noble had posted a photo on social media, with the caption indicating he was hosting a prohibition-themed event for his staff at The Guild restaurant.

The Nash is one of two restaurants owned by Michael Noble. (Anstice Communications)

Noble is the owner of well-known Calgary restaurants The Nash and Notable. His restaurants have received multiple awards, and Noble was named the city's best chef by Best of Calgary last month.

He was also the only Canadian chef to appear on the original Iron Chef television show in Japan.

"It's concerning at any time when situations like this take place but it's more disconcerting when it's involving a person of authority or a person who's perceived to be in authority," said Staff Sgt. Tom Hanson at a police news conference Thursday afternoon.

Hanson said police are not investigating any additional allegations at this point and there are no previous charges against Noble, but police encouraged anyone else who might have similar allegations to step forward.  

"Anytime somebody in authority is accused of taking advantage of a situation … we are already concerned there could be other victims," he said.

Notable, one of Michael Noble's two restaurants, has been named one of Calgary's best restaurants by multiple groups. It's in the northwest community of Montgomery. (Dave Will/CBC)

He also praised people alleging sexual assault for having the courage to speak up.

"People have to work through a whole bunch of emotional trauma to get the courage to come forward and report situations like this."

Hanson said counsellors have been made available to speak with the employee, and to attend court with her when the time comes. 

Noble denies allegation

Noble's lawyer, Balfour Der, said his client was made aware of the charges only a few days ago, and said Noble denies the allegation.

"Mr. Noble is, of course, very concerned about this and troubled about this allegation … the obvious concern on his part is not just for himself, but his employees and family members," Der said. 

He said Noble has not stepped down but has taken a step back "until some dust settles." He said both restaurants will be operating as usual, but without Noble's daily presence. 

Balfour Der, Michael Noble's lawyer, says his client denies the allegation. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC)

Der said he's not at liberty to discuss the details of the case.

The Nash and Notable released the following statement in response to the charge: 

"Our restaurants employ 140 talented Calgarians. They are, and will always be, our number-one priority. The wellbeing of our staff takes precedence, and we are working with a third-party to ensure they have the support they need. We are committed to the people who make our restaurants what they are — our staff, our valued guests and our community. It's what we've always done, and it's what we'll continue to do."

Noble, 56, has been charged and released on promise to appear in court. 

With files from Lucie Edwardson, Julie Debeljak