I rushed out of there as fast as I could, but not before Julia saw me outside and wondered just why I was upset. I recapped everything briefly and she expressed concern about the chef’s behavior. Not knowing if she was also still acting (perhaps she had some sort of hidden camera on her?), I insisted I just wanted to go home.
I felt so free once I got to my car. What in the world had just happened? After weeks of interviews and coaching on their part about this exciting project, Gordon Ramsay’s endorsement repeated dozens of times to me, and their convincing behavior…THIS was the result? So many questions, but mainly: why did they go out of their way to convince me this was real, only to not reveal it in the end? The more I thought about it, the more concerned I became. What if this was filmed for some obscene use? They sure had enough shots of me putting stuff into my mouth. I was probably overthinking it, but Oh. My. God. What just happened?
I spent the next several days researching everything about the people I met and the many companies involved. I can’t post all of the details yet. I can, however, reveal that several other prominent Miami bloggers and chefs were scheduled to film after me (or perhaps even with me), but got paid and turned away at the last minute and told that filming was canceled. Each one was asked to individually meet at a different place prior to filming. Zest Restaurant rented out the space as a venue, but was not involved in the project in any way. Great care has gone into covering the tracks of everyone involved in this shady project, but as I have found, it is not possible to cover everything up.
Is there any chance that was actually Ramsay in costume and he was involved? He is, after all, known to be a prankster as evidenced here and here. If it was, the makeup team deserves a standing ovation because I couldn’t tell. Now that I’ve written this out, it’s clear this project had malicious intent. They laid it on thick and delivered a seamless performance. Kudos to the cameramen for maintaining their poker-face throughout.
It’s tough to accept that the human interaction I had with these producers wasn’t genuine. I spoke with them at length about the journey that led me to write and report about food. As a mother of two special needs children, I explained how this blog serves as a hobby and a nice way to disconnect. I was honest, excited, and accepting of the initial madness until it all became too outrageous to believe.
I did notice the “Chef” kept reading off a notebook when describing dishes. That seemed off, but not enough to be a red flag. I regret not walking out when I was first asked to uncover the “corpse” in the mashed potatoes. But in a world where the Kardashians rule and Salt Bae is king, the inmate-turned-chef concept just didn’t seem too far-fetched to me until they took it too far.
After repeated failures to receive a reply from the production company explaining what exactly transpired during filming and to obtain copies of the documents signed, I have retained legal counsel, and have rescinded any and all consents, authorizations, and releases.
Was this an attack on dedicated foodists such as myself or on highly decorated chefs who arduously work on the line their entire lives trying to deliver a one of a kind dining experience for diners? Both?
I hope the producers sleep well at night and enjoy their mediocre meals. I’ll be sitting pretty at The French Laundry in Napa Valley this coming fall, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in NYC and Alinea in Chicago during the spring. Unlike the filming that took place, my smile will be genuine and there will be nothing fake about my visits to these VERY real 3-Starred Michelin restaurants.
To be continued…
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