Media Blog

Fact-Checking the Foodie

Food Network personality and star of Dinner: Impossible Robert Irvine, is set to open two restaurants in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area.  Word got back to the St. Petersburg Times that things weren’t going so well for the TV chef, including allegations of unpaid bills to local businesses.  The Times started investigating and found a whole lotta problems for Irvine.  An excerpt:

Robert Irvine’s tales are difficult to verify.
Here is what is known:
He is an excellent chef.
He is the star of Dinner: Impossible, a hit show in its second season on the Food Network.
HarperCollins published his cookbook and biography, Mission: Cook!, in 2007.
He lives in Abescon, N.J., in a modestly priced house with his wife and two children.
Beyond that, it’s hard to separate truth from fiction.
Reached on the phone, Irvine said he only had a few minutes. He said he was angry.
Irvine’s bio on his own Web page lists a B.S. degree in food and nutrition from the University of Leeds.
True?
“That was a program set up through the Royal Navy,” Irvine said. Then he paused. “We don’t call it a bachelor’s of science.”
Sarah Spiller, a press officer at the University of Leeds: “We cannot find any connection in our records between Robert and the university.”
Irvine claims in his book to have worked on the wedding cake for Prince Charles and Princess Diana, a claim he repeated to a number of locals.
“It was an English fruitcake that weighed over 360 pounds,” he told the Toronto Sun. “I worked on these elaborate side panels, which told the history of the royal Windsor and Spencer families – in icing!”
True?
“I was at the school when that was happening,” he said. “They made the cake at the school where I was.”
Did he help make it?
“Picking fruit and things like that.”
… What about that knighthood?
Jenn Stebbing, press officer at Buckingham Palace: “He is not a KCVO Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and he wasn’t given a castle by the queen of England.”
Irvine admits that.
“When I first came down there and I met people down there with all this money, it was like trying to keep up with the Joneses. I was sitting in a bar one night and that came out. It was stupid.”
He said he tried to stop the story from spreading.
Nevertheless, Irvine’s restaurant designer, Paul Guillaume says Irvine asked him to create a shadow box to display his royal uniform, which looked like a Three Musketeers costume.
… Irvine has been identified in several newspapers as a White House chef.
Scheib: “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.”
Asked to explain, Irvine said he trained military cooks at the White House.
Did he also serve presidents and heads of state, as several of his bios note?
“I cannot talk about that,” he said. “I can’t talk about it because it’s the White House.”
He is not friends with Prince Charles.

As they say, “Bam!”

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