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Tuesday, February 19

Dinner: Impossible's Possible Lies

Holy JAG, Batman!

Robert Irvine... you done got famous! TMZ has picked up a story about the Food Network star's alleged embellishments and flat-out lies regarding his culinary background, originally reported on by the St. Petersburg Times:

One of Irvine's most-touted accomplishments is having worked on the wedding cake for Prince Charles & Princess Diana. (This may or may not be mentioned in the opening sequence to Dinner: Impossible -- anyone remember?)

You'll have to decide yourself what "worked on" means, since when asked to elaborate, Irvine said, "I was at the school when that was happening," he said. "They made the cake at the school where I was." He also mentioned he picked fruit and "things like that" for the cake's panels.

Another big question is Irvine's statement that he's served as Chef for presidents and heads of state.

As of this morning, Irvine's personal Web site still claims that:

Robert's greatest honor in 2001 was to be Chef at the Inaugural Dinner for President George W. Bush, as he did in previous years for President George H.W. Bush. Being a part of history is great!

Interesting, because the White House's executive chef from 1994-2005, Walter Scheib, says that:

Irvine's ONLY connection with the White House is through the Navy Mess facility in the West Wing ... never in the period from 4/4/94 until 2/4/05 did he have ANYTHING to do with the preparation, planning, or service of any State Dinner or any other White House Executive Residence food function, public or private
When asked directly about the truth of this statement, he allegedly replied, "I cannot talk about that [...] it's the White House."

Excuse me for being ignorant, but I highly doubt that the chefs who cook at the White House are considered highly guarded government secrets. That's just, for lack of a better word, baloney.

St. Petersburg Times uncovers several other questionable statements Robert Irvine has made over the past few years, including his status as a Knight, culinary awards he's received, and whether or not he truly obtained a B.S. in Food and Nutrition.

The chef's side-by-side restaurants, set to open three months ago in the Florida city, are still nowhere near completion.

TMZ has a statement from Food Network: "It's unfortunate if Robert embellished the extent of his culinary experiences. We are investigating the matter and taking the necessary steps to ensure the accuracy of all representations of Robert on Food Network and foodnetwork.com."

Irvine's bio has since been pulled from the site.


So does this all matter? The short answer is yes. It's true that these allegations shouldn't and don't affect his ability to host a television show or serve as a chef. He's proven himself to be engaging enough to score a second season of his Food Network show and write cookbooks.

But this problem is the fact that Irvine (allegedly) lied to get to the place he is. And if it's true that he did misinterpret his background, that's some pretty big misinterpretation! I don't really care about whether or not he had to pay for the five star diamond whatever award, but to assert you had direct culinary involvement with royalty and presidents? That's just wrong.

I suppose that the idea of fame and fortune is enough for some people to say pretty much anything. The bittersweet reality is that when your fame and fortune reach a certain point, these lies and half-truths always seem to resurface.

If I see Robert Irvine this weekend at the [UPDATE: link is now disabled] South Beach Wine and Food Festival, I'll try to get another comment from him. I hope he doesn't punch me!

UPDATE: Robert Irvine's bio page on the South Beach Wine and Food Festival site has been taken down, yet his picture remains in the "personalities" section. His originally scheduled appearances during the Publix Grand Tasting Village on both Sat. & Sun. have also been removed.

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At 2/19/2008 12:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think he'll be there. He's writing a speech for Obama this weekend.

At 2/19/2008 1:08 PM , Blogger Prisca said...

I was so hoping you'd have something to say about this. I wonder what's up.

At 2/19/2008 1:35 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I'm wondering if Robert will make a comment about this at the South Beach Wine & Food Fest. I bet the Food Network will want to keep this quiet. I will be at the festival also and will be watching to see what happens.

At 2/19/2008 1:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody who "embellishes" the resume as Irvine has done has some explaining to do, that's for sure. Should he stripped of his show or punished for his exaggerations? Not so sure.

The dude certainly knows how to cook, and is quite enjoyable to watch, given his tasks. I am now doubting how "realistic" these challenges are are now. Had you ever thought what would happen if he failed in any of his atttempts? Leaving 300 hungry people at show's conclusion ? KFC on standby quick dial to order up enough dirty bird to feed the crowd? FN are complicit in this as well.

I say give the guy another chance. I think he knows he screwed up.

When in SOBE, ask him if he uses steroids or HGH's. See if you can get that outta him.

At 2/19/2008 2:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The official SoBe Food & Wine site has completely blanked out his page and he's now not scheduled for either day of the Grand Tastings (let alone anything else, but he wasn't doing, say, the BubbleQ or Rachael's Beer Bash or something like that). If he shows up on Sunday and I see him, I'll let you know, but I'll be working for a restaurant participating in the tasting--I may not see him if he magically appears.

At 2/19/2008 2:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i may just be naive but i bet you anything that all the execs and producers of food network lied about something at sometime to get to where they are. the fact that journalist live off of finding out these ridiculous stories just baffles me.. how do they sleep at night knowing that they are sabotaging somebody elses life.. Its petty and ignorant, why dont they try writing about something that can help the world?? instead of making the world an unhappier more unemployed world??


At 2/19/2008 2:42 PM , Blogger anithri said...

"Chef at the Inaugural Dinner for President George W. Bush" doesn't mean he cooked at the White House. Bush had 9 Official events in 2000, Exec Chef at anyone of those makes that statement the truth.

At 2/19/2008 4:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am unsure on what to think about this whole thing. Given the fact that yes Irvine has shown that he is after all in fact a good cook, expecually under pressure.

What about when JAG lied about his background? I know these are two different circumstances and two different people but they both embelished their history in the culinary field.

At 2/19/2008 4:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't think he'll be there. He's writing a speech for Obama this weekend."

HAHAHAHAHA! Good one! :D


At 2/19/2008 4:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Food Network should have done a better background check on Irvine (and Jag for that matter). The Food Network has no one to blame but themselves.


At 2/19/2008 4:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man... Jag, now Jag the sequel, losing the Emeril franchise and, oh, Sandra Lee. If I were a stockholder, I'd be nervous about now.

At 2/19/2008 5:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

FN didn't loose the Emeril franchise. They just opted not to renew the series. Emeril was expensive to produce. Beside, Emeril ain't no dummy and bailed at the right time.

For the money,per episode they can make a seasom of Sandra Lee, 1/2 a season of Guy Hedgehog's Garage Grill, and 1/2 season of Rachel Ray's 30 Minutes Tasty meals.

If I where a FN shareholder I would keep my money in the bank. They do some real strange things in the course of a day.

At 2/19/2008 8:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't they background check these people more thoroughly?

Next they'll be telling us that Paula Deen is really the wealthy heiress of a railroad tycoon who spent her youth in Swiss boarding schools, rather than a former trailer park bank teller/agoraphobic.

I have lost all faith.

I weep.

At 2/19/2008 9:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

at this point with all the things going on with these chefs i honestly dont believe the individual chefs are the ones that are doing the embellishing. the network itself has taken half truths and run with them for personal gain. FN is run by a bunch of pompous snotty old folk and once you are a chef on their network you belong to them. now listen if you were on a network and your bosses told you to do certain things for the network you would have no other choice but to do so, there are contracts signed and put in place in order to protect the network, but when the truth comes out (and it always does) he network doesn't take the blame for anything but lays total blame on these poor chefs. the FN will always be there but these chefs then have to pick themselves up from the shame. the FN sucks and i would never watch it again and not because of their chefs, they are great, talented people, but because of their terrible executives! i believe JAG needs to be brought back and irvine should stay but we all know those stuffy farts are gonna get rid of them since the network tends to like to keep boring old lady stuff, i mean look at who won last season of NFNS...amy...yawn.

At 2/19/2008 10:15 PM , Blogger Katie said...

"Guy Hedgehog" lol!

At 2/20/2008 8:34 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

wow...no time was spent dropping Irvine from SOBE. It is kind of sad...now we get a solo Guy Fieri demo. It will be a good time to start drinking.

At 2/20/2008 9:57 AM , Blogger jacob said...

anon: LOL... i'll zip my lips for now. (go hillary!)

prisca: i'm sure more will come out soon.

johnned: from the looks of it, it doesn't seem like he's going to be there now.

alec: yeah, i think the show will never feature him fail -- the time limits don't sound all THAT crazy (you have 15 hours to prepare this meal!). I don't think he should be fired, but I'd like to see a personal explanation. And, yes, maybe it's a bit of both HGH & steroids;-)

rd: which restaurant? I'll say hi.

anon/angela: while it's true that some journalists seek out salicious info for personal gain, I don't think that's the case here with Robert. While this may end up harming Irvine's career, who knows if Robert himself didn't "sabotage" some other, less-accomplished chef in getting his pilot on the air, thanks to his embellishments? Perhaps it was down to Robert-the White House chef, Knight, etc.-and some other dude with less stellar accomplishments. How would Robert sleep at night, then, knowing he'd lied?

scott m: interesting point. if that's true, why didn't he just say that then instead of saying "I can't talk about it"?

anon: I'm not sure either what should happen... especially since Robert is seen as a lucrative commodity for FN.

anon (4:44): I agree that it's odd FN has let this happen yet again. I suppose, in the past, it hasn't been a big worry, since the network relied on established chefs whose credentials were publicly available. Nowadays, it's not that easy to just go on what people claim on a website.

anon: ehhh... you're right that FN (scripps) should have tried to purhcase those rights over Martha.

anon: LOL... nothing would shock me now.

anon: that does tend to happen when lies comes out, which is unfortunate. america likes to forgive, though, and robert still has a chance.

johnned: meet yah at the amstel lite tent!

At 2/20/2008 10:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think someone should devote some time to uncovering some juicy dirt on FN executives like Tuschman or Suzy Cakes. These people and the minions who serve them are just as guilty in these affairs and should share the heat.

Anonymous 9.28pm nailed it accurately. FN people are freaking story tellers and good copywriters.Many of them are not career TV people and this is quite evident with much of the crap they air.

They can take any knucklehead, give em a show and make some of us derelict viewers watch. (see Guy Fieri, Gerhard Keegan)

Half the schedule is rubbish, but they have managed to "convince" many of us this is quality programming.

Funny how you don't see such mindless culinary cooking shows on PBS. Maybe because the PBS viewer is about 75 % smarter than a FN viewer.

At 2/20/2008 4:55 PM , Blogger Tablebread said...

I don't really watch this show so I don't have too much to say on the topic but everyone should realize that 'Chef' is a title earned through OJT (On the Job Training) and not necessarily culinary training. So technically anyone can call themselves a chef. The FN is enjoying this ability.

At 2/20/2008 6:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

@jacob: Wish.

At 2/20/2008 10:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it me or was the beginning of DI different tonight? It was missing all his qualifications and such.

At 2/21/2008 1:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:11 p.m. seems to think people like Guy Fieri are untalented phonies. I think Fieri is not only real, but an easygoing and intelligent chef, even if he doesn't look like one. As for whether Chef Irvine lied constantly, I couldn't tell from watching how he works around a strange kitchen. He seems pretty decent to me. He seems a lot less mysterious than JAG.

At 2/22/2008 10:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a huge DI fan. It does appear from the St. Pete report there were some stretches of the truth. It is suspicious that the FN execs did not already know this or that they claim to be ignorant of Robert's fibs. Whatever the story, Robert Irvine is an amazing chef, with abilities that far surpass most FN chefs. It would be a shame for FN to drop his show. I think Robert is overall a good person.

At 4/26/2008 9:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chef Irvine is awsome. I think he has proven himself in front of millions of viewers with all the shows he has done. So what if his resume had a few white lies on it, he still showed he was capable of the job. I wont be watching DI after his last show, they could never replace Chef Robert Irvine in my opinion.

At 7/26/2008 3:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares if he lied or not? The guy can cook.
I saw the knew Dinner Impossible with the new host, and I lost interest, he is not engaging enough, as a matter of fact I found him boring, but that is just my opinion.
There are a lot of actors and singers with alcohol, drug, and other issues. So go turn on them, at least Robert was hosting a good show.

At 8/25/2008 7:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My opinion the network is a fault for not checking Robert resume. I really enjoyed the show with Robert and as for the new host, lost a viewer of the show.

At 4/13/2009 1:39 PM , Blogger crazytennis said...

We should give him another chance, this is a business, eventhoughhe misinterpret his resume but he has very well entertainment ability (since a new iron chef guy takeover the show I really lost the interest in the show). Just like the Guy's show (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), I live in Santa Rosa, CA I know his restaurant, it's really not that good at all but he is a successfull chef not because he cook good but because e has ability to entertain people well, he made the show interesting, that is the main point of the FN business. So why don't we just look at what chef Robert did for us in his show so far and give hime another chance.
best wish to Robert


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