Celebrity chefdom is rife with conflict: from the great foie gras debate, to vegans vs the world, to Anthony Bourdain vs everybody else, chefs aren’t known for their polite manners. Here’s our definitive roundup of the 13 biggest, baddest, craziest celebrity chef feuds.
Gordon Ramsay vs Jamie Oliver
Stuck in a ridiculous, testosterone-and-English-breakfast-tea-fueled feud are British chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, who are presumably duking it out for bragging rights as the biggest, baddest culinary Brit this side of the pond. Jamie started it by essentially calling Gordon an idiot for attacking a female Australian TV host (there was an image of a naked woman on all fours with multiple breasts and a pig's face involved). Gordon later called Jamie a one-pot wonder and told TMZ the last time he had a bad meal was at Jamie Oliver's restaurant. The Naked Chef shot back that he would buy Gordon Ramsay's wife's cookbook over his. In conclusion, we find all this chest-beating a hard sell from a couple of guys who pronounce "basil" the British way.
Anthony Bourdain vs Sandra Lee
No big surprise that Anthony Bourdain has beef with Semi-Homemade Cooking host Sandra Lee. Her particular brand of cooking with already prepared foods is a prime example of the Food Network slump Bourdeezy loves to criticize.
Says Tony of Sandra's cooking, "All you have to do is waddle into the kitchen, open a can of crap and spread it on some other crap that you bought at the supermarket. And then you've done something really special." (...Is he making fun of us for putting nutella on oreos? Because that shit is delicious, and, if so, we're offended.)
He later described Sandra as "pure evil. This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time. She Must Be Stopped. Her death-dealing can-opening ways will cut a swath of destruction through the world if not contained."
See the "Kwanzaa Cake" video above for the multitude of ways in which Sandra Lee loses.
Tyler Florence vs Andrew Zimmern
In a since deleted blog post referencing Tyler Florence's appearance on the reality show Momma's Boys, Andrew Zimmern wrote, "Monday’s episode featured the worlds least talented TV chef, Tyler Florence, once again churning out the questionable cooking advice and leading the ladies through a menu of the Mom’s fave recipes. Watching Florence wolf down the food, stare and ogle every ass that strolled by his cutting board and play the role of local TV stud was high comedy of the highest order."
Tyler Facebooked right back at him, writing, "I guess it’s hard to have a sense of humor when you're on your 10th take of eating Yak testicles, smiling to the camera, wondering where your life went wrong......... mmmmm, Delicious! Go get 'em guys."
This one's difficult to call, but Andrew seems to have more friends, so we'll take his side.
Alton Brown vs Adam Richman
Kitchen mad scientist (no, not Wylie Dufresne, the other one) Alton Brown slammed Man vs Food star Adam Richman for his "disgusting" show, in which he takes on local pig-out spots and their insane food challenges. "That show is about gluttony, and gluttony is wrong. It's wasteful. Think about people that are starving to death and think about that show. I think it's an embarrassment," Alton fumed.
In a bizarre twist of food feud fate, Adam actually seemed genuinely hurt by the comment, referencing Alton as his one-time idol. He tweeted, "Alton Brown: MvF is about indulgence-NOT gluttony-& has brought loads of biz to Mom-n-Pop places. You were my hero, sir. No more." He later diffused a potential tweet war by writing, "My previous Tweet is not to start some foolish Twitter feud. Merely my hurt response to insults hurled my way from the man who inspired me."
For the record, we have fun watching Man vs Food and enjoy watching Adam sniff out tasty local eateries, right up until the last five minutes where he has to eat an entire rack of schwarma or whatever. That's unnecessary. Alton, FTW.
Rocco DiSpirito vs Jeffrey Chodorow
Perhaps the feud that best mainstreamed the epic, age-old tension between restaurant chef and restaurant owner was Rocco DiSpirito vs Jeffrey Chodorow. The pair's culinary divorce was highly publicized due to the fact that it was basically the sole premise for one of the first culinary reality shows, The Restaurant.
Basically, the made-for-TV eatery Rocco's boasted DiSpirito as head chef, with Chodorow handling the finances. The series only lasted two seasons and the entire first season was dedicated to trying to open the place. So you can imagine how long the restaurant actually lasted. The feud was well-documented on the series, but it basically ended with Chodorow suing Rocco, the restaurant (partially staffed by Rocco's famiglia) going under, and Rocco getting cut off from his aunt's meatballs.
Admittedly, Chodorow is a behind-the-scenes guy, but Rocco's steady string of Bravo appearances bumps his relevancy factor up considerably. Point: DiSpirito.
Gordon Ramsay vs Marco Pierre White
While some chefs revere their relationships with their mentors to such a high degree that it results in an all-out Top Chef blubberfest, other mentor/protege duos have more of a Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader relationship. Case in point: Gordon Ramsay and his mentor Marco Pierre White. It's White from whom Gordon has learned his particularly caustic and abrasive brand of kitchen demeanor, and he turned it right back on his mentor during his rise to fame.
The most notable attack was an evil genius move by Ramsay, which involved stealing the reservation book at Auburgine (which could seriously eff over a restaurant back in the day) and blaming it on White. The accusation blacklisted White with some important Italians, while buoying Ramsay, so it was especially obnoxious when Ramsay later confessed to the whole thing with a sneer. More recently, the two have sniped at one another's forays into celeb chef-dom and restauranteuring. But, really, this fight is world-weary, decades old, and makes us want to take a nap. Everyone loses.
Anthony Bourdain vs Alice Waters
There's an argument to be made for Anthony Bourdain vs the world at large, but we managed to pare down the list to a few favorites. Among them is a feud with Alice Waters, who tried to get President Obama to put a vegetable patch on the White House lawn that one time. Tony's beef? "As a chef, I’m not your dietitian or your ethicist. I’m in the pleasure business," he decreed in a panel discussion with her (video above).
We guess she didn't have a suitably impressive comeback, because he later told the DCist, "Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We're all in the middle of a recession, like we're all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market." He also likened her to a Cambodian dictator in a muumuu and added, "She's not a particularly good spokesmodel for her cause... She's comfortable, she has very elitist tastes that she has a very had time concealing. Actually, that's the part of Alice Waters I like. Her love of Provence and the Mediterranean sensibility is both charming and not helpful." Sorry, Alice. You're too snobby to be helpful.
Martha Stewart vs Rachael Ray
Oh, did you think we were forgetting about the girlfights? Homemakers have claws, friends. In 2009, Martha responded to a question about her new, younger, EVOO-slinging competition Rachael Ray by asking: Competition? What competition?
Martha's points: 1. Rachael can't bake. 2. Rachel is an entertainer while Martha is a teacher. 3. Rachel basically ripped off and reworked Martha's old recipes for her own cookbook. So THERE.
Rachel's response? Surprisingly graceful! She commented, "It’s true. It’s 100 percent true. Why would that make me mad? Her skill set is far beyond mine. It’s simply the reality of it. That doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t important."
Is having an unbearably grating voice important? Just wondering...
Jean-Christophe Novelli vs Toby Young
So, this one time, food critic Toby Young was judging food by Jean-Christophe Novelli's students on the British version of Hell's Kitchen, and got so wasted and cranky that Novelli BANNED him from ALL of his restaurants FOR LIFE.
"They were invited onto the show as dinner guests but all they did was get steaming drunk. They couldn't even walk by the end of the evening," Novelli told The Independent. "I'm bothered because it hurt the contestants. They were excited at critics trying their food, but [Kate] Spicer and Young were just sarcastic and obnoxious. I've now banned them from my restaurants."
Kate Spicer, Toby's partner-in-crime during the incident offered, "I can see why he was upset by what we said, but the food was bad. Perhaps he's just stroppy because Toby and I won't sleep with him." Stroppy?! We don't even know what that means, but hot damn, we are charmed! Toby wins (thanks largely, or entirely, in part to the aptly named Miss Spicer)!
Tom Colicchio vs Dan Moody
Is there anything celebrity chef-ier than a Twitter feud over pink slime? Unequivocally, no.
Dan Moody picked a big fat fight with Tom Colicchio over the "beef" product, complete with name-calling, while Colicchio remained level-headed, trying to bow out of the row several times. He finally calmly asked Moody if he would let his kids eat pink slime-laced beef, and Moody replied with a thoroughly convincing, "I would absolutely let my hypothetical kids eat it."
While Moody is busy feeding his hypothetical kids hypothetical beef, we'll be over here with our tofu. (Okay, fine, we're actually eating bacon.)
Bobby Flay vs Masaharu Morimoto
Way back before Iron Chef had an American iteration, the original Iron Chef (yeah, like the Japanese one) came to the States to do a special in 1997. Bobby Flay was the chef chosen to go up against Massaharu Morimoto in the battle, and, after time on the clock ran out, he jumped up on the counter (inadvertently trampling all over the cutting board) in a crowd-pumping gesture.
Now, in Japan, cutting boards and knives are considered sacred, for obvious, sushi-is-food-of-the-gods-related reasons. So, Morimoto and the rest of the Japanese judges were EXTREMELY offended by this.
And then, when Flay lost, he complained about it! He accused Morimoto of having superior equipment or some nonsense.
A year later, they went for a rematch and Bobby pulled the same counter-jumping shtick, but made a big deal about how he was carefully avoiding the cutting board so as not to offend. How sincere of you, Robert. The winner here, clearly, is the chef who doesn't make us embarrassed to be American.
Mario Batali vs Guy Fieri (Asphalt Chef)
In 2010, Mario Batali partnered up with NASCAR to host a charity cook-off dubbed Asphalt Chef. And what better way to generate hype for the event than a little trash talk? In a series of videos posted to Youtube, Batali and his competitor Guy Fieri exchanged barbs, while the third contestant, Chef Tim Love, kept his head down. (For the record, Tim won).
Batali castrated Guy by claiming he wasn't a real threat; Guy drove a truck over Mario's signature orange Crocs (thank you, Guy); Batali perused the menu at TGI Friday's ("one of Guy's restaurants") and stuck with the story that his platinum-haired rival is nothing to be feared.
And, finally, Mario actually dressed up like Guy, complete with flame shirt. Sure, this rivalry was friendly and all in the name of charity, but the stunts pulled were hideous enough to make our list.