Sunday Rewind: “Career Imploded”


Blogger’s Note:

This is a re-posting of a blog from February,18, 2008.  Just a few hours after some local publications seeking answers on Chef Robert Irvines culinary resume’, the Food Network pulled Irvines bio off their website and edited his “Dinner Impossible” show introduction to fully disclose his actual culinary accomplishments. Since that date in 2008, the Food Network has reformulated the introduction to the series, and also reinstalled Robert Irvine back into the lead host role in the series during the 2009 season. To finish out the 2008 season, Iron Chef Michael Symon came on the show to complete the current season while Irvine reflected on his errors in judgement on the embellishment of his culinary accomplishments.

“I was wrong to exaggerate in statements related to my experiences regarding the Royal Family. I am proud of my work while serving in the Royal Navy and on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, also as part of the Guest Chef program in the White House with the United States Navy, in addition to my culinary accomplishments.

I should have stood on those accomplishments alone, without embellishment. I remain committed and enthusiastic about my work with Food Network and other future endeavors. I am truly sorry for the errors in my judgment.  To all my family, friends and loyal fans, I will work tirelessly to regain your trust and continue to use my show and life to benefit the less fortunate.”

Oh my God,
Today I opened my Internet edition of the “St Petersburg Times”  and saw the grinning picture of the Food Networks’ Chef extraordinaire Robert Irvine staring back at me with that cocky smile that only a celebrity chef can have at a moment like this.


It seems that after this story, the local restaurant, Ooze and Schmooze might never even  get down to even cooking a practice meal before it will shutter its doors. The bistro was to be established at 400 Beach Drive in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The current  “foodie” venture  is not even a remote possibility at this time considering the roar that is going through the culinary world right now on the Chef’s bloated resume. Irvine’s credibility and culinary exploits are being examined with a fine tooth comb right now. As stated in the “Times” article, the Food Network has pulled his website blog and is investigating his tales of the extraordinary for accuracy and even his culinary resume’ basic credibility.

I am an avid Food Network freak. I love the cooking/travel enduced show Anthony Bourdain” ( I have read his books ), the culinary craziness of Guy Fieri, Paula Deen and the “Iron Chef“. I TIVO more of this networks shows than anything else on television. So to find out my  guy from,”Dinner Impossible,” might be a bit of an imbellishing rube is a rude awaking indeed.

I know alot of us have stretched the truth a bit to seem more elegant or refined, but to state you helped bake a cake for England’s favorite princess ( Princess Diana), and you would have been all of 12 at the time is a bit too much to forgive right now. There have been a long line of tall tales being unearthed about his cooking expliots and bravado over the past few years.

Taken from his website:

“Robert’s philosophy is: If you are going to do it, do it right, don’t take short cuts, spend time researching, and most of all be dedicated to whatever and whomever you are working with and have lots of fun doing it. If you do not do the above, it’s time to change your career direction.”

In my local humble town (St. Petersburg, Florida), he was about to open a upscale restaurant in a very romantic and waterfront area of the city. Being near the world famous and well-received Vinoy hotel, and situated a mire block from the Fine Arts museum, it would be the kind of place to put this region on the world-wide culinary map. 

Food critics and “foodies” would travel to see the chef’s creation. Much like people flock to Emeril’s establishments in New Orleans, or Bobby Flays’ Mesa in Las Vegas, the bistro would be on the “must taste” list of some of the world best palates.

Magazines like Bon Appetit, Gourmet and maybe even the well respected Zagats’ Guide might book inbound flights to this elderly hamlet to examine and taste his creations and hopefully, put this region back on the culinary map. In an area, already reknown for seafood and citrus delicacys, and wines of Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, we might have a new exciting chapter in the food annuals.


Now, this region of the state is already known for it record days of sunshine and lightning. And the St. Pete Times did make this town famous for our many  green benches in the city. But something like this would be like Johhny Weisemullier wanting to set up a local business back in the early 70’s in Largo, off Belcher Road and would peak the intrest of fans and food lovers all over the country.

But sometimes celebrity can be both a curse and a blessing. Only the true in spirit and heart seem to be able to make a transition from  cooking star to  successful bistro owner without a hitch. Wolfgang Puck has done it.  Paul Newman has established an empire based on the charity and fine products from  salad dressings,tomato sauces to popcorn.

But when a falsehood is found within an industry it can sometimes makes that community turns its heads and ears away from that region, even one that is striving for positive recognition from the world. With a well-known television personality showing success and culinary masterpieces out of local resources and goods, it would have been like a “thunderstorm in an outhouse” to this region.

The “Times” contacted Dave Avery, the chef who actually did the original and final blueprinting and major bakers’ magic on Princess Diana’s wedding cake. It seems that if Robert Irvine was in fact at the Royal Navy Cookery at that time, Chef Irvine would have been 12 years old at the time of the cakes inception. 


Other tales have come up to test and tarnish this chef. Another has Irvine working at the White House in an official capacity somewhere in the main kitchen area. It has been revealed that he did have some cooking time in the White House,but not in a common kitchen area, but in the Navy section of the culinary section teaching some techniques and procedures to aspiring chefs, possibly for embassy duty or personal chefs for high ranking officials.

There is the fable of cleaning up and re-doing the plates of chef’s Tom Keller, Charlie Trotter, and Eric Rippert at a James Beard event before they were served that night. Either of these three chef’s would have thrown him out of the kitchen for attempting such a bold and callus disrespect to their dishes before serving them at an event. Another tale that has come to surface is of a local  Floridian flair that  his current St. Petersburg venture was to be backed by Wendy La Torre,a local woman with a flair for feeling important and regal in a non-regal world.

While Robert was here to promote the bistro a few weeks back, he was very inviting and willing to take pictures and autographs with people while telling the future tale of this fine establishment. During this same event, La Torre was rude, manipulative and wanted to share the spotlight totally with her new found savior.

Greed and Ego have no place in running a place of culinary creations. In a moments notice, you can be on cloud nine with the hit of the local scene, then you are looking at a vacant dining area with no customers after treating them as unexpected guests than as friends and patrons of your business. In this one area, Irvine was totally innocient of any wrongdoing at all.


I hope a lot of this  misinformation gets cleaned up fast. Irvine seems like a chef with a great creative flair, but this can reduce him to mere “dishwasher” status in culinary circles in a moments’ notice. I have seen amazing thing done on the fly on his show, “Dinner Impossible.” 

Like the moment he used a standard wheelbarrow to mix a huge batch of cole slaw, or a simple painters bucket with some selct holes to strain pasta while doing his show on a construction site . He has shown that he can work under extreme pressure and conditions.

Now he will have to use those charm and quick wit along with his awesome culinary talents to show he is a true chef,  a new man of his word, and above all, human and capable of making mistakes. either that or his next show will be entitled,” Career: Imploded.”


Cliff – congrats on being #13 on the latest Leader’s List for the whole regular season!


So you’re a foodie on top of all your other accomplishments and interests? I love the Food Network too. When I’m really stressed, I flip it on and watch whoever is cooking. The only bad part is that their recipes make me hungry and I go look in the refrigerator and there’s nothing very appetizing to eat!

It been a weird year, and hopefully within the next few months I can maybe make a few more moves either direction.
This next time of the year is when the serious and the part-timers tend to fall a bit apart.
I know I have committed to writing every day, about something, but you never know.
Just hope others decide to make it a 365 day ideal and not just a 162 game adventure.

Rays Renegade

Not a “foodie” per se, but I am an admirer of the culinary arts. Guess it is the greasy spoon fry cook nestled within my brain.
I have always cooked since I was a kid at least 3 times a week. My mom worked late nights at a hospital, and I tried and have something on the table for the rest of us.
Did not ever think I would want a chef’s type of job, but in college, a few friends opened a wing joint, and I developed their sauces and kind of fell for it by accident.
But not bizzare foods for me. Heck I will not even eat some green veggies.

Rays Renegade

Thanks for the Food Network personality tutorial. I had no clue who this guy even was… so you aided me in learning something new today. Good job, Cliff! I do love food though… and I know a whole lot about that.

I am going to the South Beach Food Network event in 2010. I have to meet Guy Fieri. “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” was a perfect concept for a chef like him.
If I teach 1 person something new every day………, just do not call me “teacher”
I want to be Hank Moody on “Californication” (lol).
Just got to get the writing thing down first………..maybe.

Rays Renegade

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