2015 has been a banner year for scandals in the food world. From a salacious affair outed in a humiliating public spectacle, to celebrity chefs waging out-and-out war, these are the events that made our jaws drop.
1. Bobby Flay's Hollywood Walk of Fame Upstaged by Cheater Banner
In June, when Bobby Flay became the first celebrity chef to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was supposed to be a proud day for him and the food world. Instead, as TMZ reported, someone hired a plane to fly over the ceremony flaunting a banner with the word “cheater” emblazoned across it—a reference to Flay’s public divorce drama with actress Stephanie March.
2. That Meat is How Old?The BBC reported that Chinese authorities busted a giant meat-smuggling ring worth approximately $483 million in June. Among the grim discoveries: The smugglers were selling 100,000 tons of frozen mystery meat determined to be 40 years old. Of all the food-news stories that inspire vegetarianism, this one surely wins a prize.
3. Napa Valley Wine Train Derailed by DiscriminationMembers of a predominantly black female book club were humiliated in August when they were kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train mid-route for the sounds of their loud laughter. NBC Bay Area noted that a social media backlash immediately followed and was filed under the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack; meanwhile the Wine Train owner scrambled to sell the business in the wake of racism accusations.
4. Guy Fieri vs. Anthony Bourdain
Nobody likes to be teased, and Guy Fieri admitted as much in a November interview with GQ magazine, where he called out fellow television food personality Anthony Bourdain for making fun of his bleached hair, attire and other traits on multiple occasions. “I don’t like him making fun of people and I don’t like him talking s---,” he said. “. . . I know he’s definitely gotta have issues, ‘cos the average person doesn’t behave that way.” Bourdain hasn’t commented on the story.
5. UK Horsemeat Scandal Rears Its Head AgainThe UK was rocked by a horsemeat scandal in 2013, and it came bucking back this year. The Guardian covered the January hearing of a slaughterhouse boss named Peter Boddy, who admitted that he sold 50 horses for meat and failed to comply with EU regulations that trace the origins of meat for sale. While there's no word yet on how many people were affected, there is a strong possibility that consumers cooked and ate horses without realizing it.
6. Jose Andres vs. Donald Trump
Among his epic attention-getting activities of the past year, Trump found time to sue star chef Andrés for $10 million in August. The lawsuit was for breach of contract, after Andrés backed out of a planned project at the Trump International in Washington D.C. following Trump’s controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants. According to the Washington Post, Andrés filed his own countersuit against Trump for $8 million in October.
7. Bad News for Chef Du Jour
In the super-bummer department, chef Matthew Tivy, who runs Cafe du Sole in New York and appeared on Food Network’s Chef Du Jour, was arrested on charges of child pornography and having sex with a minor. He's awaiting his time in federal court, reported AM New York in October.
8. San Francisco = Not Lovin' McDonald'sThe Golden Arches had a rough year over by the Golden Gate as two San Francisco McDonald’s locations shuttered suddenly and a third was declared a public nuisance by the City Attorney due to rampant drug and other criminal activity taking place in the parking lot. Citizens of a city more accustomed to slow food haven’t been quick to defend Mickey D’s.
9. Whole Foods Removes Controversial ItemsWhole Foods made headlines a few times in 2015 for stocking controversial products, leading to protests aimed at getting the products off the shelves. First it was rabbit meat, and then it was goat cheese and other items made by prison labor forces. Stephen Colbert apologized for the latter on behalf of the grocery chain when the story hit the news in October, asking, “But I thought everything at Whole Foods was supposed to be cage-free?”
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