Should Robert Irvine be sacked as the Food Network's Dinner Impossible chef?
That's this week's poll question at TV Feeds My Family. The story has been stewing for weeks, ever since The St. Petersburg Times blew the lid off his overcooked resume. Check out "TV chef spiced up past exploits," by Ben Montgomery, here.
Among other things, Irvine was caught lying about his connections with Britain's Royal family (he claimed, among other things, he was pals with Prince Charles), cooking for four U.S. presidents in the White House as well as celebrities such as Donald Trump and several prime ministers. There were many other examples of Irvine's unchecked self-aggrandisement. He spun them all for me when I interviewed him last year in an outdoor cafe in Toronto's Distillery district. (The story ran in TVTimes magazine.) He didn't go so far (as he did with others) to brag about a phony Knighthood. But Irvine wanted you to know he was Mr. Connected, Mr. Accomplished, as dashing and James Bond-ish in real life as he is portrayed on Dinner: Impossible.
Frankly, I didn't care about his alleged exploits with the Windsors--I was more interested at the time in getting tips on marinating chicken. Irvine offered a few pointers. The kids are ever grateful.
At one point during our conversation his cell phone rang. It was a direct call from the White House, the publicist later mentioned. It may have been from a white house, but it was not the one on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
He talked about his two South Florida restaurants, Ooze and Schmooze, as if they were thriving eateries with long waiting lists. Neither has ever opened, as Montgomery's article reveals.
The story speaks to how people (and reporters who should know better) will believe anything in an era when truth has been reduced to a minor detail. Half the time, you expect to be conned. We live in a world of manufactured reality, especially in television. Even beyond television, Irvine's tale should be a slap in the face to anyone who has ever fudged on a resume or cheated on an exam--transgressions that are becoming more and more routine and, in some cases, even encouraged in a society obsessed with bottom line success.
The frustrating thing is, Irvine is the real deal on his show. He didn't have to lie to do his super chef act, he just had to lie to get it.
A seasoned Navy cook, he and his two assistants are thrown into "impossible" situations--like feeding 200 guests gathered on a remote island with limited resources for a wedding THAT DAY--and he pulls most of them off with panache. There is great drama on his show, and many happy endings.
Isn't Irvine's performance even more compelling now that we know he's really The Great Imposter? Is he any more of a poser than reality show headliners Hulk Hogan, Gene Simmons or Bret Michaels? Isn't lying all the rage, the way to get ahead on shows like Survivor and American Idol?
Maybe, maybe not. When I mentioned my willingness to forgive Irvine to a friend, she said she'd pass. She used to love his show and thought he was hot, but the dude lost all his sexy appeal because of three little words: he's a liar.
What do you think? Should Irvine get a second chance? Vote early vote often.