Tuesday, February 19
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 privateWhen 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.