A diner was aggressive before he had chilli pepper thrown in his eyes by a restaurant owner, a court heard.
Chef Kamrul Islam, 47, is accused of causing actual bodily harm to customer David Evans at the Prince of Bengal in Tonypandy, South Wales, on January 21 last year.
Islam admits throwing the chilli powder into Mr Evans’ eyes but insists he was acting in self-defence.
The couple, who arrived at the restaurant at about 6pm, ordered lager and a bottle of wine before choosing their dishes from the menu.
Nicholas Hewitt, a kitchen assistant at the restaurant, told the jury he was sent to speak to Mr and Mrs Evans after their complaint.
“They weren’t happy with food quality, in particular a tandoori dish,” Mr Hewitt said.
“They said it was rubbery, with the possibility of it being microwaved. I assured them that it was cooked fresh with traditional herbs and spices.
“I remember telling them that if they weren’t happy with that dish I would be happy to take it off the bill and bring them another dish.”
He said Islam attempted to “defuse the situation” but things “got out of hand” – with both the restaurant owner and the couple swearing.
At one point, Mrs Evans “grabbed” Islam’s arm and he said: “Don’t touch me,” Mr Hewitt told the court.
“I remember the man standing up saying, ‘don’t swear at my wife’,” he said.
“Kam was quickly retreating from the table. The guy was marching across the restaurant, punching his hands into his fists.”
Islam walked into the restaurant’s kitchen and another worker attempted to block Mr Evans from entering and reaching him, Mr Hewitt said.
“I remember him being very aggressive,” he said.
“He used his physical presence and was trying to get into that kitchen. That’s when a mist of powder came out the door and hit the customer in the face.”
Asked what he believed would have happened if Mr Evans had reached Islam, Mr Hewitt replied: “I dread to think.”
Mr Evans immediately doubled up in pain after the chilli was thrown at him and was taken to hospital.
A saline drip was used to clean his eyes and he was found to have suffered burns where the spice landed on him.
The court heard from friends and former employees of Islam, describing him as “polite” and “accommodating”.
Islam, of Llewellyn Street, Pentre, denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The trial continues.