Scandals involving hard-living Hollywood celebrities
are a dime a dozen, but the stars of The Food Network? No way. Far too wholesome, right? Think again: They might have a reputation
as being from a more well-behaved TV network, but do some digging and you’ll find that’s
not the case at all. From racism and harassment to chefs rebelling
against the very network that made them famous, there’s a ton of dirt smeared all across the
once-clean chef’s whites of the Food Network. Bobby Flay “quits” Iron Chef There’s always a chance something jaw-dropping
is going to happen during live competition shows, and Iron Chef Showdown is no different. In 2017, long-time Food Network star Bobby
Flay took off his chef’s coat mid-competition during a live taping. Underneath was a shirt that said, “THIS IS
MY LAST IRON CHEF BATTLE EVER.” Pretty stunning stuff, and Vanity Fair says
the producers immediately went into damage control mode. Not only did no one know he was going to do
it, but it was going to be a nightmare to edit it out down the road. When they told Flay, he answered with, “I
know. That’s the point.” Flay later told People the whole thing was
a joke, and he was just having some fun on the last episode of the season. He added he would be happy to return to Iron
Chef and wasn’t leaving Food Network, but by 2018 it was clear it wasn’t a joke after
all. People says he told Michael Symon his grueling
schedule – which included six to eight battles a week – was too much. “… it crushes me, because it’s 60 minutes
of pure energy, creativity, and execution. And so at some point I was like, ‘I’ve been
doing this for a long time and I want to go out on a high note.” He also added while the Food Network didn’t
appreciate how he handed in his resignation, and ultimately didn’t air the stunt, he stood
by his belief it was just good TV. Geoffrey Zakarian is sued into bankruptcy Geoffrey Zakarian, a staple on The Food Network,
was sent into bankruptcy in 2011, after a shocking class action lawsuit was filed against
him by his former employees at his now-shuttered restaurant, Country. According to the lawsuit, Zakarian shorted
his staff on overtime pay, falsified pay records, and docked their paychecks for meals the staff
never received. The former employees asked for $1 million
in damages and an extra $250,000 in penalties. Adding insult to injury, The New York Times
reported Zakarian’s former business partners stood on the side of the workers, filing court
documents claiming Zakarian had, indeed, violated labor laws. While his partners also claimed shady business
practices (including charging personal expenses on the restaurant’s credit) were to blame
for the restaurant closing, Zakarian denied all of the allegations and insisted he had
done nothing wrong. At the same time, his publicist said he just
didn’t have the money to fight the accusations, and was forced into bankruptcy by the suit. Michael Symon gets up close and personal In 2014, Michael Symon participated in a beach
volleyball tournament held to benefit the Armed Forces Foundation. Celebrity chefs teamed up with each other
and with some Sports Illustrated swimsuit models for the event, held as part of the
South Beach Wine and Food Festival. How could such a noble cause create a scandal? Exactly how you’d expect. Symon posted pictures from the event that
included one with Chrissy Teigen sitting on his lap, and fans were outraged on behalf
of his wife. With some questioning just how faithful he
was, others rallied to support him. The single photo got hundreds and hundreds
of Facebook comments, mostly from people arguing over the relationship between people they’d
never met. Symon brushed off the controversy after responding
with: “wow some ppl have 2 chill a bit…in [South
Beach] for wine & food event…doing a photo shoot…liz is WITH me..& chrissy is a friend.” Paula Deen’s diabetic crisis Paula Deen’s food has always been more delicious
than healthy, and when she announced she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, not many
people were surprised. Problems started after she admitted her official
2012 announcement came three years after her diagnosis, and when they asked her about the
delay, she responded, “I wanted to wait until I had something to
bring to the table.” What she was bringing to the table was a deal
with Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company behind a non-insulin injectable diabetes medication. Deen and her sons were the new faces of a
major drug campaign, and that just added to the scandal. ABC News says many condemned her for hiding
her diagnosis as long as she did, continuing to promote an unhealthy cooking style that’s
heavy on the butter, sugar, and portion sizes. Food Network was quick to distance themselves
and say they knew nothing about the diagnosis, while other celebrities were just as quick
to either condemn or support the hypocrisy, the shadiness of the deal, or both. Anthony Bourdain summed up the whole thing
pretty well when he tweeted, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so
I can profitably sell crutches later.” Giada De Laurentiis’s rumored cheating Giada De Laurentiis announced she and husband
Todd Thompson were splitting after 11 years of marriage in a 2014 announcement that came
just after he officially filed for divorce due to irreconcilable differences. The rumor mill started churning, and it wasn’t
long before the chef was forced to make public claims about a private matter. De Laurentiis said repeatedly that she had
never cheated on her husband, but accusations just kept coming about flings with Matt Lauer,
John Mayer, and Bobby Flay. Rumors about a fling with Mayer started way
back in 2010 (and she denied them then, too). But, when her divorce almost coincided with
Flay’s divorce from Stephanie March, tabloids thought that was a smoking gun. She repeatedly denied it all, saying, “Well,
we’re very good friends… but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen because I’m smarter
than that.” After the dust settled, Meredith Vieira asked
her how she had gotten through it, and she had some inspiring words. “I started to realize like, I know why I fell
in love with cooking. Because it makes me happy, and because it’s
the place that I feel the strongest, the most empowered, the most creative. It’s where I can stand on my own two feet.” Sandra Lee’s questionable Kwanzaa Cake When Sandra Lee made a Kwanzaa Cake in 2009,
AV Club described it as “a pile of ridiculousness slathered in despair and sprinkled with nonsense
nuggets.” And that’s not even the cruelest comment. The ever-honest Anthony Bourdain said, “The most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen
is [Lee] making a Kwanzaa cake. Watch that clip and tell me your eyeballs
don’t burst into flames. It’s a war crime on television.” So, what was it? An angel food cake topped with store-bought
frosting, pumpkin seeds, and corn nuts she kept calling acorns, filled with apple pie
filling. It was terrible, but terrible food isn’t a
scandal. What was scandalous is the offense she caused
by declaring her train wreck of a dessert a celebration of Kwanzaa. With the help of Queens College professor
and cookbook author Jessica Harris, Salon confirmed it was as non-authentic as you can
probably guess. No punches were pulled either, as Harris condemned
the entire project as being made by someone who didn’t have “the first clue.” Graham Elliot sued by employees Former Iron Chef contestant Graham Elliot
stirred up some controversy when he was accused of mishandling tips by his employees. Thirteen former waiters at his restaurant,
the self-named Graham Elliot in Chicago, eventually joined in the lawsuit originally filed by
former waiter Gregory Curtis in 2012. According to Curtis, the wait staff was forced
to pool their tips, which would then be redistributed among the all the staff. Curtis said food runners and cooks should
not have been entitled to a share of the tips, as federal law says tip pooling is only allowed
if the money is distributed among people who typically receive tips. That’s a category that does not include food
runners and cooks, so wait staff sued for the wages that were lost as a result of the
tip pooling. Elliot didn’t contest the claims, and ended
up settling with his former waiters for an undisclosed amount. Thanks for watching! Click the Mashed icon to subscribe to our
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