If you’re a celebrity, especially one with a wholesome image, you’re constantly walking a tightrope. One false move, and the entire house of cards that you’ve been building can come crashing down. If you’re a culinary celebrity, be it a chef or food show host, a bad PR move can not only mean the end of your television career, it can also lead to a closure of your restaurants.
Meltdowns and PR disasters come in all shapes and sizes. In some cases they’re social media-fueled, usually the result of an offensive, angry outburst. In others they’re the result of rumor-mongering, illegal activity, lying, or simply doing something dumb. Nobody, not even the most famous person alive, is immune from doing something dumb, and culinary celebrities are no exception.
In many cases, it’s not the offending statement or event that’s the disaster, it’s the way it’s handled. When a celebrity and their team goes into “damage control” mode, when it’s all-hands-on-deck to figure out how to emerge as unscathed as possible, those first couple of days are crucial. Some emerge as if nothing ever happened (or if they’re really lucky, folks see them in a better light); others end up with a reputation that never recovers, lost endorsements, cancelled TV shows, and empty restaurants.
Some culinary celebrities, like Paula Deen, will most likely never fully recover from the bad PR. Others, like Robert Irvine, handled their potential nightmare with aplomb, and today all is forgiven. So read on to learn about the 10 biggest food star meltdowns and PR disasters in history, and remember that nobody, even squeaky-clean cooking show hosts, is immune from being human.