Everybody makes mistakes. That includes, as it turns out, many of our favorite celebrity chefs and the teams around them. Sometimes those mistakes can end entire careers, while others—after the initial blowup—just fade into the distance. Check out some of the biggest celebrity chef scandals below, and just be thankful your biggest snafus don’t end up in the tabloids.
1. Robert Irvine Lies About His Resume
Trying to pad a resume is nothing new. (It’s why you write “Oversaw neighborhood media distribution” instead of “Newspaper delivery boy.”) But completely fabricating your background is another thing. Dinner: Impossible star Robert Irvine learned that lesson when it was revealed that many of the details in his resume, including a British knighthood, ownership of a castle in Scotland, a friendship with Prince Charles, and experience cooking for four U.S. presidents, were all either embellished or made up entirely. Though he seems to have recovered, the controversy saw the chef briefly lose his line of cookware, his Food Network program, and invitations to a variety of food and wine festivals around the country.
2. Anne Burrell Is Sued for Discrimination
Chefs are known to be hot-tempered (hello Gordon Ramsay on every episode of Hell’s Kitchen), but there’s a line between angry and abusive. Workers at Anne Burrell's now-shuttered Centro Vinoteca in New York Cityclaimed in a lawsuit that she frequently crossed that line, calling them names like “slutty,” “saggy,” “ho,” and “stupid dumb whore,” among other things. No word on how the suit turned out in the end.
3. Nigella Lawson Makes Headlines For Drug Use
During a fairly dramatic court case, testimonies from former employees of the “domestic goddess” revealed there might have been more than just cooking going on in Lawson’s household. In pre-trial claims, the employees stated that Lawson was a daily drug user, taking cocaine and prescription medicines regularly, which had made her impossible to work with. The claim was referred to as “totally scurrilous” by Lawson’s attorneys, though she later admitted to using drugs herself. So maybe not so scurrilous after all?
4. Mario Batali Is Sued for Skimming Tips
In 2010, 117 servers, captains, waiters, bussers, back waiters, and bartenders brought a suit against Mario Batali and his business partner Joe Bastianich, claiming that their tips had been unfairly garnished while working in the duo’s NYC restaurants. The claim describes workers being paid below minimum wage, working more than 40 hours a week, and having to turn over a percentage of their tips on alcohol sales to account for a sommelier’s salary. The duo eventually paid out $5.25 million to settle the suit. Non é buono.
5. Martha Stewart Serves Her Time
An oldie but a goodie, who could forget the time Martha Stewart’s insider trading landed the star in prison for five months? Even more memorable were the details of her sentence (most notably the nickname "M. Diddy") and the poncho crocheted for her by her cellmate. As evidenced by her delightful partnership with Snoop Dogg, her jail stint was thankfully far from the final nail in her career coffin.
6. Guy Fieri Faces Homophobia Accusations
A disgruntled former Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives producer had no problem dishing the dirt on Fieri. According to a City Pages article the producer, David Page, made claims that Fieri was uncomfortable working beside people with different sexual orientations, and made disparaging comments about being forced to. In particular, Page recalls a phone call after a shoot featuring a gay couple in which Fieri allegedly said, “You can’t send me to talk to gay people without warning! Those people weird me out.” Fieri’s representatives deny this language/behavior ever occurred.
7. Gordon Ramsay's Father-In-Law Gets Into Trouble
You think your in-laws are intrusive? Just last month Gordon Ramsay’s father-in-law was sentenced to six months in jail for hacking into the celebrity chef’s email account in an attempt to dig up dirt. Chris Hutcheson, the father of Ramsay’s wife Tana, was formerly a business partner with the celeb chef, though their relationship turned sour in 2010 over missing money and the revelation that Hutcheson had a mistress and secret family (oops!). Christmas dinners since then have had to be super uncomfortable.
8. Paula Deen Makes Racist Comments
You can’t make a list of celebrity chef scandals and skip over Paula Deen. The southern cook’s admittance to frequently using the n-word, along with her subsequent drop from the Food Network after more than 11 years, was a huge story when it happened. Whether she learned her lesson or not is unclear (she also tweeted a photo of her son in brownface), but she was given a second chance to return to the airwaves regardless. Lord help us, y’all.
9. Ina Garten Does Not Make-A-Wish
While it’s not drug abuse or open racism, seemingly ignoring the requests of Make-A-Wish kids is not exactly good publicity. Ina Garten took some heat when she apparently twice turned down a request to meet a leukemia-stricken 6-year-old via the Make-A-Wish Foundation, claiming that her schedule prevented her from doing so. She eventually corrected the issue and invited the boy, Enzo Pereda, to the set of The Barefoot Contessa to spend time with her at Food Network studios.
10. Bobby Flay's Divorce Raises All Kinds Of Questions
Bobby Flay and Stephanie March’s divorce proceedings in 2015 brought all sorts of skeletons out of the chef’s closet. Revelations included allegations that Bobby failed to rush to then-wife Stephanie’s side after her appendix burst, skipped his 10-year wedding anniversary for a food and wine festival, pocketed earnings from a racehorse he gifted to March, engaged in a three-year affair with his assistant, and even possibly engaged in an affair with actress January Jones. We don’t know which allegations are true and which ones aren’t, but it’s a heck of a lot of smoke for one celebrity to deal with.
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