Celebrity chefs are hugely popular, as well as what they promote, condone or prepare in their kitchens. However, a recent announcement made by one famous chef has spurred some snide remarks from another and started a backlash of controversy that leaves the public wondering whether they should listen to what famous people are saying. After all, their celebrity status doesn’t mean they’re right.
The controversy started after Paula Deen, famous Food Network chef, recently announced she was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes. Deen has continued to prepare foods with a Southern flair that are mostly fried and high in fat content, even though she was diagnosed with the disease more three years ago. Fans are asking if she kept quiet because she couldn’t decide how to make her illness public, or because she just wanted to continue making millions with her cooking show, cookbooks and restaurants that all serve up the Southern-inspired dishes.
In response, Anthony Bourdain, another famous Food Network chef, criticized her for the timing of her announcement, implying she waited to break the news for monetary gain. Bourdain made the comment on his Twitter page, @noreservations, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.” He also said the timing of her announcement showed incredibly poor judgment, since she only recently endorsed a drug to treat diabetes.
The public probably feels sympathy for Deen since the diagnosis means a total change in lifestyle, diet, and could even become a life-threatening condition. If not treated properly, Type-2 diabetes can lead to long-term complications, including possible amputation of limbs, which would lead to lifelong lifestyle changes such as being confined to a wheelchair and needing to use a handicap van.
Deen’s reason for keeping her illness a secret does, at the least, sound suspicious. However, Bourdain doesn’t have a lot of room to talk since he also travels the world eating unhealthy foods. Food Network officials claimed they didn’t know anything about Deen’s condition before she announced it, but then again, who would admit to that?
In a recent interview, Virginia Willis, author of “Basic to Brilliant, Y’all,” her third cookbook of Southern dishes, was quick to defend Deen and her Southern cuisine: “I want to present to people that Southern food is more than just fried chicken and overcooked greens. There can be refinement to these recipes. Paula Deen is wonderful, and she is a very nice lady. Her cooking is not necessarily typical of all Southern cuisine, either.”
Following her announcement, Paula Deen stated, “I’ve always said, ‘Practice moderation, y’all.’ I’ll probably say that a little louder now. You can have diabetes and have a piece of cake. You cannot have diabetes and eat a whole cake.” Perhaps it would have been more believable and effective is if she said that three years ago. She passed up the opportunity to positively affect millions of people. A national “eat healthy” campaign could have actually encouraged fans, including Anthony Bourdain, to eat healthier foods.
So while the controversy between the celebrities continues, the recipes for both chefs continue to appear on Food Network. Fans are left to decide what is best for their own personal health and whether or not to prepare the dishes promoted by them. This experience only further proves that listening to famous celebrities may not always be best. Celebrities should be very careful when they make choices, because they could be affecting millions of lives, but consumers should also distinguish between good and bad advice.