Every time we turn on the TV and go through the Food Network, the Food Channel, or the Lifestyle Channel, we see the numerous faces – and of course scrumptious dishes – of our favorite celebrity chefs. Viewers talk endlessly about the graceful and simple recipes of Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa!), the savory and almost sensual recipes of Gordon Ramsay, or the healthy alternatives of Jamie Oliver. We just can’t imagine a day going by without watching our favorite chefs and idols cook up something new. Their exuberant personalities, the twinkle in their eyes – you know that someone who is so passionate about food and culture is just great.
Even when we see them under pressure on Top Chef or Iron Chef America, we know it is all a part of the culinary trade. Those barbs they exchange are all for a good cooking show! At the end of it all, we know that every chef is as nice as the amazing food they cook. Or are they? After all, they are still celebrities; and they have to put on a show in front of the camera, even if it is just for cooking and not acting out elaborate plots. They still have reputations to maintain! But who are these chefs that aren’t quite what they seem on the surface?
15. Paula Deen
Described as the Martha Stewart of the South, Paula Deen hastily fell even further south from where she already was. Famous for her recipes that use far too much butter, Deen had been a staple on television for many years when it was revealed that her unhealthy cooking had led her to develop diabetes. She began working as a spokesperson for a diabetes medication, an image that did not sit well with her fans. She came under heavy fire again in 2013, when she admitted to using racist language, in particular, the very offensive N-word.
But that’s not the end of the story. What’s even more shocking is her justification of using such word. She claimed to have been using that word when it was “a different time.” Her company put out the statement that Deen should be forgiven for such language because she grew up during a different time when the southern states were still heavily segregated. Sounds like a lot of crap, tbh. Racism is always inexcusable, and there is no place for that kind of behavior anywhere.
14. Guy Fieri
If Guy Fieri’s gimmicky food, crazy hair, and the many bad reviews his restaurants have received haven’t already put you off the guy, then perhaps his attitude will. Though he is still quite popular – his shows still regularly air on television – Fieri has developed a reputation that is a lot less nice than the food he cooks. Which is really saying something given the aforementioned bad reviews of his restaurants. According to Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives producer David Page, Guy Fieri was very difficult to work with and has an overly inflated ego.
More than that, Fieri has proven to be quite homophobic too. He reportedly said, “You can’t send me to talk to gay people without warning! Those people weird me out!” Unbelievable! All in all, he’s been called ridiculous, and he has been accused of “single-handedly destroy[ing] the Food Network,” among a slew of other less-than-flattering things.
13. Rachel Ray
If you want to have fun while watching someone cook, maybe the best show to tune to is Rachael Ray’s. Ray is famous for her voice and the expression EVOO. She’s bubbly, loud, and cooks incredibly good-looking (and probably even better tasting) food that can be prepped in thirty minutes or less. But while her meals are quick and easy to prepare, her attitude requires a bit more work.
Rachael Ray is reportedly “quite the potty mouth” behind the cameras, especially when interacting with her crew and cameramen. Her management and hiring practices have also come under fire, as a one hour taping apparently takes about six hours of time for her fans and viewers. waiting, Also, she didn’t invite her father to her 10th wedding anniversary! Though that may be another story all on its own.
12. Jamie Oliver
Remember Jamie Oliver’s crusade against all things bad and unhealthy? When he showed kids the truth about how chicken nuggets are made? When he just wanted people to go organic and healthy? Doesn’t he sound amazing and like exactly the kind of person you would want to look up to? Well, in the cooking world, perhaps. But in other aspects of life? Er, not so much.
In particular, a lot of women didn’t find his remarks about breastfeeding pleasant. On a radio show, Jamie talked about how breastfeeding was “easy…convenient…more nutritious…[and] free,” which doesn’t seem that bad on the surface. But many women felt that a man has no place explaining how “easy” breastfeeding is. It’s not easy or pleasant for everyone, and many women accused him of mansplaining breastfeeding to them. One listener responded with “We didn’t know what to do with our nipples until Jamie Oliver popped his head above the parapet!”
11. Rocco Dispirito
Rocco Dispirito seems to have quite the booming celebrity chef career. Between his numerous television appearances, his own reality show, and his restaurant Dispirito has cultivated quite the following. But even a career as successful as this is not enough for some people. Dispirito’s relentless pursuit of even more fame and wealth has been a total turn-off for a lot of once loyal fans.
Some people have accused him of having a big ego, especially after the episode of his reality show when he had a meltdown and screamed at a lot of people, including his mother. Even though, as spectators, we can never be sure if this conflict was genuine or staged. But speaking of his mother, he apparently wanted a bigger share of the estate despite already having half of it. He ran the risk of becoming estranged from his siblings, even though he was his mother’s only caretaker for a long time.
10. Mario Batali
We may have tuned in to Mario Batali for his expertise in Italian cuisine and other recipes, but he’s definitely not the guy to look to as a model for how to behave. First, he and his business partner were sued by their waitstaff. Apparently, they have been skimming 5% off the waiters’ tips! Talk about bad management practices.
But more than that, now four women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. Three of those women were his employees! But he did apologize, and he started off strong and, well, very apologetic. He said that he made many mistakes in the past and that he’d work harder to regain people’s respect. He then ended the apology with a link to cinnamon roll recipe. Way to completely miss the point dude. How apologetic are we supposed to believe he is?
9. Bobby Flay
We all loved Bobby Flay at some point. First, he’s really charismatic, good looking, and has great recipes. Who doesn’t want to watch a bit of Throwdown with Bobby Flay when feeling under the weather? Who doesn’t want to see him go head to head with other chefs on Iron Chef America? And it’s not only us commoners – even celebrities like Scarlett Johansson like to hang out with him. But is he all that behind cameras?
Apparently, his ego is quite inflated. Reportedly, after beating chef Morimoto, Flay stepped on a cutting board, which is rude! Everyone knows Morimoto considers the cutting board to be sacred! Allegations of cheating on his wife of ten years have sprung up too, as well as reports that he asked assistants to stay with her instead when she was rushed to the hospital.
8. Anthony Bourdain
Just looking at Anthony Bourdain makes us think that he’s some sort of classy, cultured traveler. Which he is, because he’s been around! He’s well-known for both his extensive travel experience and his cooking. His globetrotting adventures are fantastic to watch. He makes us want to be cultured, well-travelled foodies with the wind in our hair and lots of food on our plates. But is he as awesome of a person as he seems?
Besides his food adventures, Bourdain is also known for his numerous feuds. He just about fights with everyone: Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Emeril Lagasse, and Guy Fieri. In fact he has called Fieri a douche on more than one occasion. He also doesn’t like the Food Network, and has had some very unsavory things to say about it. He’s been described as vulgar and macho on many occasions.
7. Giada de Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis is not only a treat to watch because of her radiant beauty (have you seen her? She’s gorgeous!), but she prepares really amazing and authentic Italian dishes too! Anytime we’re looking for an authentic Italian recipe we know that Giada will deliver. And she always presents each recipe in a way that is approachable for the novice home cook. Though are those authentic, nice Italian dishes reflective of the chef herself?
Many people have been quite annoyed at her, not only because of her unnecessary over pronunciation of Italian words, but because of how positively inauthentic she is. Reports have surfaced that she doesn’t even eat the food she cooks on her television show. Though, we have to say, her rep has denied these claims. People also feel her smile, which seems plastered to her face for the entire show, is inauthentic. Though this might be explained by the fact that a producer reportedly told her to smile “all the time.”
6. Ina Garten
Who could ever hate the gracious Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself!? She always cooks the most exquisite dishes for her beloved Jeffrey – simple yet stylish and classy – plus she just looks so damn peaceful and content doing it. Who wouldn’t want to be invited to one of her famous dinner parties? Her hubby Jeffrey sure is one lucky fellow!
But not all people who come across Ina are quite as lucky. In fact, many were disappointed when they found out that she refused to see a 6-year-old fan with leukemia! The kid reached out to her to have a cooking session, through the Make A Wish Foundation, but the Barefoot Contessa rejected the request twice. She did try to patch things up by finally inviting the family to the show – but it was too late.
5. Gordon Ramsay
Is it a surprise that our favorite fiery, quick-tempered, and foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay is on this list? Perhaps to some, yes, as they have seen him comfort children on the MasterChef Junior series. He’s often seen encouraging them and being generally pleasant, a far cry from his usual persona, though these are children after all! Other people know how ruthless he can get – in and out of the kitchen.
As far as social media is concerned Ramsay seems to have the greatest reach on Twitter, where his responses to his fans’ cooking (people tag him in their food posts) can range from constructive to just plain nasty. A lot of people bait him so that he will say something snarky and mean. There are times however, when it is clear that he’s pooping on the efforts of well-meaning fans. Would it hurt to be just a little more kind?
4. Action Bronson
Just look at Action Bronson, With his scraggly beard and large muscles it is apparent that he can get brash if he wants to – and he usually does. He’s described as “crass and disgusting” something that he is quite proud of. In fact this behavior is part of his appeal. But sometimes, his demeanor is just downright nasty.
One time he posted a picture on Instagram of a drunk person his friend threw water at. Then he captioned it with “Close up of Drunk Mexican Tranny after Bes poured a Bottle of water on its head.” If that wasn’t bad enough, he started telling people that they were “sensitive pussies” for calling him out. He tried to apologize by saying that he did not mean to offend the LGBT community, but then he immediately undercut himself by saying that he “loves gay people, [but] trannies not so much.” Geez, what a douchebag!
3. Ree Drummond
It seems like this list of offensive, racist, sexist, or discriminatory celebrity chefs keeps going. And this time, it sends us in the direction of chef Ree Drummond. While the others showed their intolerance through social media or real life, or something of that sort, Ree has the confidence to highlight hers on her own show! Come on, Ree! Be better than this!
On an episode her show The Pioneer Woman, she pulled out a batch of Asian hot wings – to the apparent disgust of her family. She then replaced it with nice “normal” American buffalo wings, cause of course she “wouldn’t do that” to her family right? Wrong! The Asian-American community was outraged at how Ree used the Asian dish as a prank, with the rest of her fam affirming how decidedly not normal Asian wings are at the dinner table.
2. Anne Burrell
Co-host of Worst Cooks in America Anne Burrell is hated by many for various reasons. Her “growling,” her “statement-making hair” (which could bloody well beat Guy Fieri’s own spiky mess), and her other odd mannerisms all attract the ire of many Food Network fans. On the other hand, many other people celebrate her for coming out as queer in the hyper-masculine and judgemental restaurant industry. Another great addition to the LGBT community!
But it seems that, while she could’ve been another good champion for the community, one which is tolerant and loving, she herself has a very intolerant attitude. She got caught up in a scandal when her staff sued her for discriminatory remarks including calling her female employees “whores” and “sluts.” She even made disparaging remarks like, “You must be tired today from f[…]ing all night.” Definitely not someone you’d like to look to for any LGBT-championing.
1. Geoffrey Zakarian
Geoffrey Zakarian is a pretty big player in the industry. One look at his crisp suits or his appearances on Chopped and Iron Chef America tells you all you need to know. He’s really made it. But this man is not without his controversies. Described as having “major cooking skills,” he seems to be sorely lacking when it comes to his management skills and looking out for the welfare of his employees. He may have made it big for his cooking, but his name also made headlines for less savory incidents.
He has been sued by his employees on the grounds of “gross violation[s] of labor laws,” as he apparently hadn’t been compensating them fairly. He was also accused of doing things like falsifying pay records or not paying enough for overtime. His restaurant, The Country, closed down after he filed for bankruptcy in response to this class suit. How the mighty have fallen!