Celebrity chef George Calombaris departs the Downing Centre court in Sydney. (Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

The $7.8 million underpayment admitted by George Calombaris' MADE Establishment group of companies might be eye-popping for the extraordinary size of the rip-off carried out across the group's restaurants, but it reflects business-as-usual across the hospitality sector.

Restaurants, cafes and food services outlets are one of the worst sectors for wage theft, and a routine target of the Fair Work Ombudsman's (FWO) compliance activities. In its 2017-18 annual report last year, the FWO noted: