The Food Network gives many of us the much-needed comfort we lack. Whether spending the day relaxing on the sofa or looking for some meal inspiration, the Food Network provides the perfect fix. For those who like to put on the critic’s hat, food shows give them the ideal opportunity.
Whether learning from a famous chef to make their classic recipes or watching talented cooks attempt to win competitions, food shows always leave us drooling. However, with a closer look, we found that many fan-favorite Food Network stars have made some serious blunders throughout their TV careers.
John Besh’s conduct was so inappropriate that he was edited out of his own show. In January 2018, an episode of Iron Chef Showdown was aired in which Besh popped up only in the background occasionally. The episode had been filmed in 2017, and since then, production had edited out John.
It turns out that more than twenty-five of Besh’s restaurant employees had accused the chef of misconduct. Furthermore, they alleged that he also notoriously hired into Besh Restaurant Group other cooks with lousy form. When these accusations surfaced, the show’s executives had no choice but to edit him out.
The faux pas just got bigger when an employee of Besh’s exposed the details of their relationship to the public. The woman claimed that John had coerced her into a relationship and had bullied and pressured her continuously while they were involved. As a result, Besh’s infidelity was exposed to his wife.
Besh confessed to his adultery; however, he claimed that the relationship with his accuser had been entirely consensual. John apologized publicly for his misconduct and inappropriate behavior, but to no avail. He was canceled by the public and the networks and edited out of Bravo’s, Top Chef too.
Nigella Lawson is among the most successful female chefs internationally. The author is known for her unique approach to hosting and memorable recipes that have warmed so many homes. Nigella has eight of her own cookbooks and has helped write many more, leading to worldwide bestsellers.
In 2013, the admirable and acclaimed chef was accused by her former assistants, the Grillo sisters, Francesca and Elisabetta, of using illegal drugs. The sisters further alleged that Nigella had forced them to keep her secret substance abuse from her then-husband, Charles Saatchi. Shortly afterward, stories and photographs supporting the Grillos’ claim appeared.
Charles Saatchi was appalled but the Grillo sisters claims and refuted them in court. However, the trial only revealed more dirt about Nigella. The sisters revealed that Lawson had let them spend her money as they pleased, so long as they didn’t tell Charles that she was on illegal drugs.
Contrarily, Charles alleged that the Grillo’s had attempted to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from Nigella and himself. When Lawson admitted to using illegal drugs more than once, the Grillo’s were fully acquitted. The cookbook author claimed that she had never had a substance abuse problem or been addicted.
Over the years, the Make-Wish Foundation has encouraged many suffering kids. It is an organization created to make the dreams of long-term or terminally ill children come true. They organize anything from once-in-a-lifetime celebrity meets to extreme experience vacations.
While battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia in bed, six-year-old Enzo spent his time binge-watching Ina Garten’s show The Barefoot Contessa. The poor child’s dream was to cook dinner with the chef. However, his dreams were shattered when Garten declined to cook with Enzo, claiming that she was just too busy touring for her new cookbook.
The following year, the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave Garten a chance to right her wrong and again reached out to the chef, asking her to cook with the terminally ill Enzo. Unfortunately, Garten declined again, still supposedly too busy. Only after Enzo’s family shamed the chef online did the story become public knowledge.
When it went viral, the Contessa attempted to contain the damage and invited Enzo onto her show to cook with her. However, it was too little too late, and Enzo’s family declined her offer. Apparently, little Enzo had gone swimming with dolphins instead of cooking with Ina.
Fans of Iron Chef Showdown will remember this 2017 Bobby Flay fluke. The famous star chef was immersed in cooking his dish when he accidentally removed his apron and revealed the t-shirt he had on underneath. Spelled out on it was the sentence “This is my last Iron Chef battle ever.”
The show’s executives were as surprised as its viewers. Unfortunately, they failed to edit the incident out of the show and instead left it in and aired it anyway. That was Bobby’s plan all along; he’d known they would fail in deleting the scene without ruining the episode.
Like many other stars, Cat Cora has made some mistakes. In 2012, the chef was arrested for her involvement in a car accident. Cora admitted that she was inebriated, and after being subjected to a breathalyzer, the cops took her to a Sobering Center. However, the other driver says the story went differently.
They said that Cat had behaved irrationally and had been driving dangerously. She was charged a fine, had to do nine months of DUI schooling, got a suspended prison sentence, and probation of three years. Cat’s expressed regret for her actions and claims she’s learned her lesson.
Nicknamed the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver has thankfully never actually exposed himself. He’s on our list for another kind of misstep. The famous TV chef got in hot water over a bad branding choice. Jamie put out a new product called ‘Punchy Jerk Rice,’ influenced in name and flavor by Jamaican cuisine.
Accordingly, fans weren’t pleased since Oliver isn’t Jamaican. Furthermore, jerk rice isn’t an actual Jamaican dish, and it offended members of the Caribbean community. ‘Jerk’ is actually the name of a classic Jamaican spice rub for seasoning meat, and Jamie’s dish didn’t even contain jerk seasoning.
Before long, people began publicly criticizing Jamie’s jerk rice on Twitter. Even a well-known Jamaican chef was unenthusiastic about Jamie’s recipe. British politician Dawn Butler accused Jamie of cultural appropriation. Butler believed that Oliver was disrespectful of Jamaican flavors in his dish by calling it’ jerk,’ when it wasn’t ‘jerk.’
The Naked Chef apologized and claimed that he had intended to honor Jamaican tradition. However, many Jamaicans had already canceled the chef. Other fans laughed off the incident, saying that Jamie wasn’t Italian either but was revered for his Italian food and is famous for his healthy, multicultural recipes.
Across the world, servers make ends meet with the help of the tips they receive from customers. Therefore, when Mario Batali was revealed to be skimming tips, people were absolutely outraged. This information was disclosed in 2010 when 117 employees from Batali’s restaurants filed a class action against the chef.
Mario was accused of skimming off four to five percent of the tips from all of his establishments, leaving his hard-working employees with less than they’d earned. Due to the sheer number of plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against Batali, his crime attracted a lot of media buzz.
Due to the number of individuals involved in the case, the trial went on for years before a settlement was reached. Mario Batali and his partner Joseph Bastianich ended up paying the plaintiffs involved, as well as every employee who had been stolen from, reparations that added up to 5.25 million dollars.
Aside from a few that decided not to be part of the settlement, everyone that had worked for Batali from July 2004 until February 2012 was compensated. The employees received proportional payouts, depending on how many hours each person had worked.
Skimming tips was just the tip of the iceberg; in 2017, four women stepped forward accusing Batali of misconduct. Three of the four accusers were former employees of Mario’s, and one was a female chef. Their stories went back as far as two decades earlier, exposing a pattern of inappropriate behavior.
Batali didn’t deny his crimes. Instead, he apologized for his behavior, admitting that there was no excuse for his conduct and the pain he’d caused. Despite the chef’s apologetic statements and the fact that he’d taken responsibility for his actions, people weren’t quick to forgive him.
Possibly the public may have been more forgiving if Batali’s email apology hadn’t ended with a link to one of his recipes, “Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls.” The self-promotion was the last straw, and The Food Network decided to cancel the show Molto Mario, distancing themselves from Batali.
Likewise, ABC took a step back from Mario, firing him off The Chew, the show he’d hosted. An investigation was held; however, by 2019, it ended, and Batali went free. The police department failed to prove the crimes depicted by the female victims. Nevertheless, Batali’s career was already in severe jeopardy.
In 2014, fans were shocked to hear that Giada De Laurentiis had divorced her husband of eleven years, Todd Thompson. Viewers were further appalled in 2015 when rumors surfaced, exposing the real reason for the couple’s separation. Giada was accused of cheating on her husband with John Mayor and later with Bobby Flay.
The rumors were believable, mainly because Bobby and Giada were both going through divorces simultaneously. In 2018, more stories depicting a secret relationship between Matt Lauer and Giada arose. Giada vehemently denied speculations of infidelity and adamantly claimed to have been faithful to Todd.
Many fans have questioned how De Laurentiis has maintained her figure while surrounded by so much food. People theorized about her exercise regimen and wondered if she only ate on camera. However, it appears that the secret to Giada’s thin physique is less healthy; she doesn’t actually eat her food.
Notorious for preaching about eating less to stay thin, it was revealed that Giada doesn’t swallow the food she eats on TV. Giada allegedly puts food in her mouth and then spits it out instead of swallowing; she even has a bucket on set to dispose of the food.
Other reports have risen to accuse Giada of using a body double. People claim that she’s so strict about her meal plan that she won’t go near food. Allegedly Giada has an assistant, and in scenes that the camera closes in on her mouth chewing food, the camera isn’t on Giada at all.
It appears that someone else is enjoying the delicious treats prepared meticulously by the chef. After the close-ups of mouths chewing, the camera cuts to a shot of Giada pulling a clean fork out of her mouth as if she’d just finished taking a big bite.
In 2016 Beyoncé’s album Lemonade had fans frantically speculating who “Becky with the good hair” was. The public wanted desperately to know with who Jay Z had cheated on Beyoncé. Many people thought it might be the rapper’s, former business partner’s ex-wife, fashion designer, Rachel Roy. Despite her name not being Becky.
Fans confused Rachael Ray with Rachel Roy and began sending the Food Network star messages accusing her of being Becky. The confusion started after Rachael Ray posted a picture captioned “Good hair, don’t care,” misleading people who thought she was admitting to being Becky.
In addition to starring on the Food Network, Rachael Ray is a businesswoman and owns a pet food brand. Rachael has a dog of her own and was inspired to make pet food for him. A percentage of the revenue of her brand Nutrish goes to animal charities.
The food has been marketed as natural and healthy. However, dogs became sick with chemical poisoning after eating it. Ray was sued for five million dollars, accused of growing her ingredients using chemicals. Rachael claimed that her own dog eats the food and is fine, and the lawsuit was eventually dropped.
As sous chef for Mario Batali on Iron Chef America, Anne Burrell entered the spotlight, paving the way for her success as a Food Network star. However, Burrell’s success was short-lived. Anne was accused of harassing female employees at her West Village restaurant in New York.
In 2009, several former employees of Burrell’s came forward and accused the chef of using inappropriate language and commenting on their looks. Furthermore, the chef discussed the employees’ personal, romantic lives constantly. When the women complained about her conduct, they were fired. Burrell has yet to address these claims publicly.
Geoffrey Zakarian proudly made a name for himself as a restauranter before the Food Network discovered him. Despite the chef’s success on TV, Zakarian filed for bankruptcy. What drove him to bankruptcy was a lawsuit in 2011; Geoffrey was accused in a class action, by 152 of his former cooks, of withholding pay.
The plaintiffs claimed that Zakarian had falsified their pay records, never paid overtime, and charged his workers for more meals than they ate. The chef was sued for one million dollars in damages and two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand dollars in penalties and declared bankruptcy to avoid paying.
Known for his job as a judge on The Great British Bake Off, Paul Hollywood came to the Food Network to judge The American Baking Competition in 2013. Marcela Valladolid, star of the show Mexican Made Easy and known for her appearance on The Kitchen, was also hired to judge alongside Hollywood.
It appears that Hollywood and Valladolid got quite cozy on the set and had an affair. Even after The American Baking Competition was canceled, the drama continued when both Marcela and Paul’s significant others filed for divorce from their famous spouses because of the extramarital dalliance.
After the scandal, Marcela quit TV and instead focused on her personal life. She’s happily living with a new man and even welcomed two kids with him. Meanwhile, Hollywood returned to England to judge The Great British Bake Off and host a few more shows on the Cooking Channel.
Initially, Paul’s wife forgave him for his infidelity, and they got back together. However, when Hollywood was discovered to be messing around with a contestant on one of his shows, she decided to go through with the divorce after all and kicked her cheating husband to the curb.
Guy Fieri has been the face of the Food Network for the past decade, known for hosting several shows. Fieri has even won an Emmy due to the success of his food shows. Despite his vast popularity, some people aren’t fans of Fieri; this is partly because of his alleged treatment of women.
A producer of, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives shared that Fieri is notorious for his misbehavior around women. He is known to make inappropriate insinuations when people say the word ‘cream.’ Furthermore, the show’s editors were given the particular task of cutting out Guy’s cringe-worthy looks at women.
However, Fieri’s bigotry doesn’t stop with women. Members of the LGBTQ community have come forward and accused the presenter of intolerance. In one episode, the foodie was sent to a joint owned by two men. Assuming that they were life partners, Fieri complained that he should have been notified before communicating with them.
Furthermore, Guy hijacked the show and demanded to be told about indications of queer behavior. He forced researchers to reveal any information they had on the subject before speaking to guests on the show. People worldwide were appalled by Fieri’s intolerance and discrimination and boycotted him.
Before hosting the Food Network series Dinner Impossible, Robert Irvine presented the network with a resume. In the CV, the chef wrote his achievements and experience. For instance, he boasted a friendship with Prince Charles, claimed to have worked on Princess Diana’s wedding cake, and noted that he’d been knighted.
Irvine also alleged that he had cooked meals for many former U.S. presidents. However, in 2008, Robert was discovered to have fabricated most of his resume. Due to his false claims, Irvine was fired from Dinner Impossible, and Michael Symon took his place.
After a time, the Food Network forgave Irvine his lies and brought him back on the show,
despite the tremendous job Michael Symon had been doing as the host. Symon claimed to have always known that it was a temporary role. He knew that Robert Irvine wasn’t gone for good.
It was reported that Irvine apologized for his lies and deception, and the network chose to give him a second chance. After a while, things began looking up for Robert, and he really made it big. Symon moved on to star in the Cooking Channel’s Cook Like an Iron Chef.
The show Down Home with the Neelys became a Food Network staple spanning ten whole seasons. Gina and Patrick Neely captured fans’ hearts and tummies by making delicious comfort food from their own home. The easygoing show was comforting and heartwarming and therefore developed a devoted fan base.
The Neelys’ show was highest rated on the network while running and does well now with reruns. After the last episode of the show aired, Gina revealed to the public that she had planned to leave Patrick before they were offered the show; she only stayed because of the show.
In 2014, the Neelys’ officially filed for divorce after hiding their separation on air for two years. In 2018 in an interview for People Magazine, Gina admitted that things had been bad between them for years and that the relationship was meant to come to an end.
The chef also confessed that she’d had doubts about taking on the show in the first place, scared it would make their relationship worse. The divorce wasn’t easy for Patrick; however, he has seems to have moved on since. Patrick remarried in 2016 and has become a loving stepfather.
During the second season of her show The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond was called out for making a joke that alienated many fans due to its racial implications. Ree cooked Asian hot wings for her family during an episode, and when she served them, her husband was disgusted.
Drummond proceeded to pull American buffalo wings out of the oven instead, laughing that she wouldn’t “do that to them.” The offensive gag offended the Asian community, who had already addressed their lack of representation on the Food Network. To be made the butt of a prejudiced joke added insult to injury.
Skimming tips seems to be trendy among stars of the Food Network. Another culprit of salary tampering is Iron Chef star, Graham Elliot. Thirteen of Graham’s former employees accused him of stealing. The servers’ tips were pooled together and shared by the entire restaurant staff.
The tips we shared by departments that don’t get tipped like runners and cooks. Furthermore, they claimed that they weren’t paid a full minimum wage. In order to get their money, the servers filed a lawsuit against Elliot. The corrupt restauranter chose not to go to trial and settled the case with a payback.
Sandra Lee was called out for being disrespectful of African American culture in 2009 after attempting to bake a Kwanzaa cake. Sandra Lee baked an angel food cake with apple pie filling. She used store-bought frosting and sprinkled pumpkin seeds and corn nuts on top. Why bother appropriating something so pathetically?
If the lousy flavor combination wasn’t enough, the fact that Lee called it a Kwanzaa cake when it wasn’t one was terrible form. Later, Sandra’s food stylist Denise Vivaldo confessed that she had planned the cake and didn’t do enough research about the Kwanzaa tradition beforehand.
While competing on The Next Food Network Star, Joshua Adam Garcia, better known as JAG, lied about his background to get on the show. Jag was a contestant in season three of the series and was cut from the show before the final cut. The network had discovered his lies and disqualified him.
Jag went to NY Restaurant School but never actually graduated. He also lied about his military career, which ended mysteriously. The contestant never served in a war zone and lied about his rank. Many veterans were offended that he lied and exploited his military career for attention.
Hollywood sweethearts Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are each famous in their own right; Neil for acting and David for cooking. David even starred in Life of the Party with David Burtka. However, rumors have surfaced that Burtka is seriously jealous of his spouse’s attention from other men.
Supposedly, David makes a lot of decisions for Neil, even giving the actor ultimatums. For instance, Neil promised to spend only six months on Broadway acting in Hedwig and the Angry Inch in 2014. David threatened to leave the Tony Award-winning performer if he stayed on Broadway longer.
Alton Brown is well-loved for making cooking easy and fun. However, Brown, it seems, has made his fair share of mean comments directed at other chefs and even toward fans. His despicable behavior peaked while the chef was giving a speech in Iowa, which shocked the crowd.
Brown said some insensitive things about the LGBTQ community and POCs while on stage, and fans have not been forgiving. Alton has since shared a tasteless Tweet, joking about the holocaust and offending the Jewish community as well. The celebrity has since publicly apologized for his comments.
Wolfgang Puck is among the more celebrated chefs in the industry and was shocked when the Better Business Bureau (B.B.B.) gave his restaurant a B minus rating. Many customers agreed that the establishment deserved a higher score. So, Wolfgang decided to do some digging and discovered the truth.
Evidently, many celebrated restaurants had low ratings, and that to gain a better score, a bribe was expected. The BBB admitted after an investigation that the only way to get an A-plus rating was to join their club and pay a fee. After that, foodies stopped trusting the BBB’s ratings.
Despite Paula Deen’s delicious recipes and well-loved show, she could never restore her reputation after her huge misstep in 2013. The chef had used racially offensive language toward an employee of color. The former worker subsequently filed a report against Paula. Deen didn’t deny her use of the word.
She instead claimed that she had said the offensive word a long time ago when just behavior was acceptable. Deen seemed to think her explanation was enough; however, people disagreed. She later posted an apology video imploring fans to forgive her. Though since then, the video was taken down.
Things were looking up for Paula until her company released another statement. The new message undid any progress Deen had made with her apology video. The company explained that Paula Deen had been raised during a different era during which such language was used commonly, and it was “a different time.”
The company really put their foot in their mouth by adding that back then, people dined at “separate restaurants” and “schools were segregated.” This explanation only made things worse; people knew that America used to be segregated. However, different times are no excuse for racism and social injustice.
Those who have cooked Paula Deen’s recipes know that richness is more important than health for the chef. Her food is full of butter and sugar and lots of other ingredients considered unhealthy. Therefore, no one was surprised when the chef was diagnosed with diabetes. However, her timing raised eyebrows.
The chef shared her diagnosis with fans in 2012, although she had known for three years prior to announcing. The public began to speculate as to why Deen had waited to tell her fans about her diagnosis. It was later revealed that she’d waited until it would come in useful.
Paula had waited to share her illness until she could use it in a deal with the pharmaceutical organization Novo Nordisk. Novo wanted to use Paula and her sons as the faces of their campaign for an alternative medicine used to aid type 2 diabetes. People began to doubt Deen’s diagnosis and motives.
The Food Network and ABC hadn’t been aware of Deen’s dirty dealings. ABC even went as far as to call Deen irresponsible for promoting food that is so unhealthy for people who share her condition. Numerous celebrities and fans also came forward expressing disappointment with the chef.
In 2019, Ree Drummond’s daughter Paige was arrested. Paige was reportedly brought in from public intoxication. The worst part was that the girl was under the age of twenty-one at the time, making her possession of alcohol illegal as well. It seems that Ree was about to get sucked into some family drama.
Someone had called the police on Paige, who had been caught partying drunk in Oklahoma. Many media outlets found out about the story and began besmirching Paige and Ree, telling the public everything about the underage girl’s arrest and misdemeanors.
The case escalated when Paige and her celebrity mother had to face the consequences of the girl’s crime. The fine for public intoxication alone was five hundred dollars and is punishable for up to a year’s jail time; this was even before considering Paige’s charge of possessing booze while underage.
However, the famous and privileged family got off easy and ended up only paying four hundred dollars in court fees. Their connections got them even more special treatment when the district attorney dismissed both of Paige’s charges and expunged the arrest from the girl’s record.
What’s more, Ree Drummond wasn’t even upset by her daughter’s arrest. Never mind the fines and fees, fans knew that the mother had enough money to pay for her daughter’s mistakes. However, the celebrity chef’s relaxed attitude about Paige’s crimes themselves worried people.
The Pioneer Woman defended herself, explaining that she tries to embrace the chaos in her life as a mother. Ree has been trying to take it easy and not get worked up about what she calls “the funny parts” of life. People, however, weren’t sure how funny underage drinking and arrests are.