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10 Biggest Scandals Ever To Hit The Food Network

Grab some popcorn and take a seat.

By Crystal RaePublished 2 years ago 12 min read
10 Biggest Scandals Ever To Hit The Food Network
Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

10 Biggest Scandals Ever To Hit The Food Network

The Food Network is most known for the fast-paced, food-cooking-themed reality shows led by the “best of the best” chefs. These stars of the kitchen have become infamous for not only their outstanding culinary skills but their loud hairstyles, sailor language, hand gestures, and hang time with Snoop Dog. As “Murphy’s Law” would have it: what must rise must fall!

Here are the 10 biggest scandals ever to hit The Food Network.

10. Irvine Has Some Explaining To Do

Chef Robert Irvine made his claim to fame, in America, as the Host of The Food Network’s “Dinner: Impossible”. The show presents Chef Irvine and his two soul-chefs, (George and George) with culinary challenges to be completed in a limited amount of time. Chef Irvine’s culinary skills, handsomeness, and witty humor made him an easy fan favorite. However, It was the impressive resume that put this star Chef in the spotlight and caused people to start digging into his past experiences. Chef Irvine stated on his resume that he had prepared meals for several US Presidents, was best friends with Prince Charles, and Queen Elizabeth handpicked him to be knighted. In 2008, after Chef Irvine’s resume did not pan out, The Food Network made a decision to let him go from “Dinner Impossible”. Chef Irvine closed out his public apology by stating, “I should have stood on those accomplishments alone, without embellishment. I am truly sorry for the errors in my judgment”. The Food Network replaced Chef Irvine with Chef Michael Symon for 10 episodes knowing they would bring him back once the smoke settled. The continued success of “Dinner: Impossible” led to the creation of “Restaurant: Impossible”, in which Chef Irvine helps failing restaurants get back on their feet. Now, ten years after the last episode of “Dinner: Impossible” you will find Chef Irvine on “The Robert Irvine Show” still finding ways to inspire and motivate others to face challenges head-on.

9. Ina Garten Denies The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Twice

The Food Network premiered “Barefoot Contessa” in 2002 which was hosted by star Chef Ina Garten. The show features Chef Garten assembling mostly french cuisine in her home in East Hampton, NY using fresh herbs from her personal garden. Watch any episode of “Barefoot Contessa” on The Food Network and you will see Chef Garten as someone who is very sweet, kind, and warm. The complete opposite disposition of someone who would deny a request from the Make-A-Wish foundation. Yet, back in 2011, Chef Garten became somewhat of a controversy when it was reported she had denied a request, not once but twice, by the Make-A-Wish foundation to meet with a terminally ill child. Enzo Pereda became a huge fan of Chef Garten while watching her episodes on The Food Network when going through his treatments for leukemia. The first request on behalf of Enzo to meet with Chef Garten happened in 2010 and her reps initially responded with a “soft-no” to The Make-A-Wish foundation. When a second request the following year was also denied, Enzo’s Mother wrote all about her terminally ill son and how heartbroken he was that the Food Network star Chef had refused to meet with him once again. Chef Garten publicly stated it was not a personal choice to deny Enzo his request to meet with her. She stated it was her reps that made the decision based on her already full plate. The public was not buying into her team’s reasoning for denying Enzo twice. Although Chef Garten had stated she does not have the availability to accept every request from the Make-A-Wish foundation, it appeared she was not even aware of Enzo's situation or the denied requests.

8. Mario Batali Caught With His Hands In Cookie Jar

Chef Mario Batali who was one of the Iron Chefs on “Iron Chef” on The Food Network. Alongside Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces, Michael Symon, Marc Forgione, and Geoffrey Zakarian. Based on the Japanese show sensation, “Iron Chef America” presents world-class chefs with a "secret ingredient." These chefs then go head to head against the Iron Chefs in a stadium kitchen to prove who is the best of the best. In 2010, it was brought to light that some of Chef Batali’s business practices are less than savory. A class-action lawsuit was filed against him on behalf of some of his employees. The suit represented 117 people who worked for Chef Batali in his restaurants. According to the lawsuit, Chef Batali illegally handled tips, keeping 4-5% of the money that should have gone to his serving staff. The case dragged on for years until Chef Batali agreed to settle in 2012. As part of the settlement, the chef agreed to pay $5.25 million to not just the employees named on the lawsuit, but to any of the employees who lost tips as a result of Chef Batali's hand in the cookie jar. To make things worse for Chef Batali, in 2017 he was accused of sexual assault. Four women stated Chef Batali had inappropriately touched them. Chef Batali did not deny the charges that spanned over a period of twenty years. During a statement made by Chef Batali, he had stated: “there are no excuses, that behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation, or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends, and family." Between the charges brought against him and his unimpressive apology, Chef Batali's career took a dive. The Food Network became distant from Chef Batali, announcing that they would no longer be producing his show, Molto Mario.

7. Anne Burrell Discriminates Against Her Employees

Chef Anne Burrell with her trademark spiky blonde hair and outgoing personality has worked at some of the top restaurants in New York. Chef Burrell makes it easy-to-master meals for the at-home cook on The Food Network “Secrets of a Restuarant Chef”. Chef Burrel also starred in “Chef Wanted” and “Worst Cooks In America”. Chef Burrell published her first cookbook, “Cook Like A Rockstar” which earned a place on the New York Times Best Seller List in 2013. With her passion for food and rockstar personality, it was an easy fit for Chef Burrell to have worked on “Iron Chef America” as a sous chef to Chef Mario Batali. n 2009, Chef Burrell was sued for discriminating against female employees. According to the lawsuit, Chef Burrell was accused of calling the plaintiffs, who were all women, a string of derogatory, and often sexually degrading names. She also reportedly made remarks about their cleavage and is said to have openly commented on their sex lives. The lawsuit also alleges that only female staff was treated in this manner. When they complained, Chef Burrell had them fired. Although a settlement was reached in that case, Chef Burrell has not commented on the validity of the accusations.

6. Giada De Laurentiis Bites Off More Than She Can Chew

Chef Giada De Laurentiis was born in Rome and grew up in a large Italian family where food was not only a staple but a culture in itself. Chef De Laurentiis has an impressive background in culinary training that is presented with undeniable charm. Chef De Laurentiis was the host of The Food Networks “Giada At Home”. On her show, Chef De Laurentiis shares her love for entertaining California-style whether she is at home or on the beach. Chef De Laurentiis seems to not only take her culinary skills seriously but her size-2 waist. This is where Miss' personality was caught up in her own drama that made fans shake their heads at her style and body shaming ways. While Chef De Laurentiis is known for portion control she apparently is not one to eat her own cooking. Chef De Laurentiis uses a stunt double for close-up teeth shots and has the camera pan back to an empty fork. On the occasions, she does put food in her mouth, Chef Laurentiis doesn’t swallow it. She has a dump bucket kept off-camera for her to spit her food into. As you can imagine this left Chef De Laurentiis fans wondering if she wasn’t willing to eat the food she cooked, why should they?

5. Paula Deen’s Recipe For Disaster

Paula Deen is an American chef, cookbook author of 15 cookbooks, and TV personality who resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she owns and operates “The Lady & Sons” restaurant. Chef Deen is known for her down-home southern cooking. Known as the Queen of Southern Cusine, Deen is infamous for her calorific creations. Typically, friend and feature generous use of ingredients such as sugar, butter, and cheese. Deen’s signature dish is The Lady’s Brunch Burger: A hamburger topped with bacon and a fried egg with glazed doughnuts as the bun. Chef Deen’s lengthy career went up in flames after she admitted to using racially-charged language (The N-Word). Deen released two online video apologies stating, “Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way but I beg for your forgiveness.” Deen became infamous for her catchphrase: “Love and best dishes to all of ya’ll.” isn’t feeling much love from her fans these days. The public was in a fury that the seemingly sweet Paula Deen had such a sketchy past. These feelings were shared by Food Network, which declined to renew Deen's contract after the scandal erupted. While they did not publicly explain why they were letting her go, it seems pretty likely that the network wanted to distance themselves from Deen's tarnished image.

4. Bobby Flay Storms Off Iron Chef

Bobby Flay is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur, and reality TV personality. Chef Flay is the owner and executive Chef of several restaurants and franchises, such as “Bobby’s Burger Palace” and the “Mega Grill”. Chef Flay has worked with The Food Network since 1995. Chef Flay has also won 4 Daytime Emmy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2017, something shocking happened on “Iron Chef Showdown” when The Food Network star yanked off his apron in mid-competition, revealing a shirt that said, “This is my last iron chef battle ever.” Apparently, no one knew he was going to do it and the shirt made it impossible to edit out of the episode. Chef Flay responded. “That was the point!” The Food Network did not approve of the way he handled his resignation. Now you can find Chef Flay on the show “Beat Bobby Flay”. The show has two talented chefs go head-to-head against each other and the winner gets to go against Bobby Flay. The winning chef gets to challenge Bobby with his or her surprise signature dish. If Chef Flay goes down, the winner can tell the world, “I beat Bobby Flay”!

3. Patrick and Gina Neely Pretended to Be Happily Ever After

Patrick and Gina Neely were the hosts and stars of “Down Home With the Neelys” A show that ran for 11-seasons on The Food Network. Pat and Gina seemed like the perfect couple, living and working and cooking side-by-side. But then, all of a sudden, game over. Marriage over, show over. It took several years before the truths would come out. Gina revealed that her 20-year marriage had grown stale and that she'd actually planned to leave Patrick before they were offered the TV show. Gina, a former bank manager, never wanted to become a TV personality, and the pressure this put on her family, not to mention having to fake a happy relationship when she was just no longer feeling it, finally caused her to crack. In 2014, she grabbed her bags and headed out the door, and after that, only her lawyers did the talking with Patrick. While the divorce was rough on Patrick at first, he's since rebounded with a new wife and kids. Gina, the reluctant TV star, has gone a different route, appearing in a reality dating show on the Bravo network called To Rome For Love. Down Home With the Neelys, however, lives on in memory thanks to reruns even though we all know it was nothing but a sack of lies.

2. Rachael Ray Sells Tainted Dog Food

Rachael Ray hosts The Food Network show 30-minute meals. She has gone way beyond celebrity chef to one-woman powerhouse: TV host, author, entrepreneur, and champion of all animals in need. In fact, she's so into dogs that she created a very special food with her own beloved pooch in mind, a portion of the profits from which are donated to her own Rachael Ray Foundation whose mission is to help animals in need. Well, what about animals who have become ill from ingesting suspicious chemicals? Chemicals, perhaps, found among the "natural" ingredients in Ray's "Nutrish" line of pet foods? A $5 million lawsuit filed in 2018 alleges that Nutrish foods contain glyphosate, an herbicide used to make weed-killers such as Roundup. Rachael herself was not named in the lawsuit and claimed to be feeding Nutrish to her own dog despite the controversy. Petsmart, one of the brand's biggest retailers, didn't drop Rachael or her product line but did issue a statement that it would be closely monitoring the situation. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but this most recent issue, on top of other earlier complaints, poor reviews, and even recalls of Ray's pet food products, indicate that she might not be such an animal nutrition guru, after all.

1. Guy Fieri’s Non ‘PC’ Remarks

Guy Fieri is known for his wild hairstyles, fancy cars, and cool presence in the public eye. Chef Fieri came under scrutiny in 2011 when some of his offensive remarks were revealed to the press. According to David Page, creator and former producer of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Fieri's charm wins over audiences, but his off-camera demeanor isn't as sparkling. Chef Fieri also revealed his distaste for the LGBT community. According to Page, one of the restaurants they visited for the show was run by two men who Fieri "had decided... were life partners." Page said Fieri called him and said "You can't send me to talk to gay people without warning! Those people weird me out!" Page added that from that time forward, the show's researchers were told to make a note if they picked up any "indications of homosexuality" during the pre-interview process.

Babble.com - Crystal R Murdock


About the Creator

Crystal Rae

My heart bleeds black and white for you to read like an open book... so don't be shy... take a look!

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