Entries in Food Network (5)


NY Man Arrested in Paula Deen Extortion Plot

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC(NEW YORK) -- A New York man who allegedly tried to extort a $250,000 from former Food Network star Paula Deen was arrested today by federal authorities.

Thomas George Paculis, 62, of Newfield, N.Y., was arrested this morning on an extortion charges, according to a news release from the FBI.

Paculis threatened to disclose "true and damning" statements made by Deen to the media unless the celebrity chef paid him $250,000, according to a federal complaint.

The FBI said it was notified by Deen's attorney after an email and follow-up phone call were sent to her office threatening to expose information that would "bring hardship and financial ruin" to Deen if it was released.

Paculis is a former resident of Georgia, where Deen lives and has a restaurant.

A call to Deen's representative was not immediately returned.

Paculis did not answer a call to a cell phone number believed to be connected to him.

Paculis was scheduled to appear in federal court in Savannah, Ga., on July 16, according to the FBI.

Deen has faced criticism in the past few weeks after a lawsuit deposition in which the celebrity chef admitted to using racial slurs.

The self-proclaimed queen of southern cooking and her brother are being sued for racial and sexual discrimination by Lisa Jackson, who worked as a manager of their Savannah, Ga., restaurant. During a deposition in May, Jackson's lawyer asked Deen whether she'd ever used the n-word. She said she had.

Deen became one of the Food Network's top stars after she landed her first show, Paula's Home Cooking, in 2002.

On June 21, The Food Network announced it would not renew Deen's contract at the end of the month.

Since then, a slew of businesses have severed ties with Deen, including Target and Walmart, along with her book publisher, Ballantine.

In a video apology last month, Deen asked for forgiveness.

"I want to learn and grow from this," she said. "Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.

"I've made plenty of mistakes along the way," she added, "but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I have made."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Canadian TV Chef Anthony Sedlack Dead at 29

Food Network Canada / Scripps Networks(VANCOUVER) -- No foul play is suspected in the death of Anthony Sedlak, an award-winning Canadian celebrity chef and television host, North Vancouver police said today. He was 29.

Sedlak, the host of Food Network Canada’s The Main and a judge on Family Cook Off, was found dead Friday in his North Vancouver apartment at about 7 p.m. PT. The exact time of death is still to be determined.

Sedlak’s representative Pamela Singh told ABC News that she was unaware of any health problems in his past. She said that more information regarding his death will be available later this week.

The North Vancouver police confirmed to ABC News that there will be no criminal investigation. It is unclear whether an autopsy will be beneficial to the investigation, a representative for the British Columbia Coroners Service said today.

Kevin Porter, the general manager of the Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites, had been working with Sedlak on reinventing the restaurants and room service menus at the hotels for the past four months. He said Sedlak had displayed no sign of health problems.

A statement from the Sedlak family thanks his fans for their love and condolences. A private funeral service will be held for Sedlak in Vancouver.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Food Network Star Weds Pro Wrestler

PR Newswire/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Food Network star Robert Irvine, 46, wed professional wrestler Gail Kim, 35, in Napa Valley, Calif., on Thursday, People reports.

The pair met on the set of Irvine's former gig, Dinner: Impossible.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Did Food Network Pastry Chef Copy Recipes?

Marc Stamas/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Food Network dessert star Anne Thornton is embroiled in a culinary controversy. The pastry chef and Dessert First host got the axe from her TV show after her recipes were deemed too similar to versions dished out by culinary queen Martha Stewart and the Barefoot Contessa, according to the New York Post.

"The network discovered the similarities during the second season of the show," an unnamed source told the Post. "They went back and reviewed her first season, and discovered what looked like copying then, too."

The Post reported that Thornton's frosting for her German Chocolate Cupcakes mirrored Martha Stewart's coconut-pecan frosting recipe from the 2009 book 175 Cupcakes.

The plagiarism allegations relate to recipe ingredients, but also copycat cooking instructions. Thornton's Mascarpone-Stuffed French Toast recipe follows nearly identical directions as one in The Essence of Chocolate cookbook, and only adds orange zest and a strawberry topping in lieu of maple syrup, the Post reported.

Thornton's Luscious Lemon Squares also came under fire for their similarities to a recipe penned by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garden, in 1999.

A Food Network spokeswoman declined to address the plagiarism allegations, but cited ratings as the reason behind the show's cancellation.

Thornton, who left a job at Apple to make food her career, attended New York's Institute of Culinary Education. She worked as a pastry chef at New York City hot spots The Waverly Inn in 2006 and Hotel Griffou from 2009 until 2010, before making her debut on Food Network in October 2010. Thornton's second season was a 13-episode run that ended in June 2011. The show was not picked up for a third season.

The pastry chef told the Post that it was the first time she had heard of plagiarism allegations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Barefoot Contessa' Will Meet With Make-A-Wish Kid She Snubbed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Barefoot Contessa has time to star in her Food Network show, pen cookbooks, and cook at charity luncheons for her well-to-do fans.

But apparently, her schedule was too packed to meet a six-year-old boy stricken with leukemia who requested a cooking session with her through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She turned him down, twice.

Now, after multiple blogs and news outlets criticized her decision, Ina Garten is inviting Enzo Pereda to the set of The Barefoot Contessa.

"Ina became aware of Enzo's story this weekend and will be calling him today," a spokesperson for Garten said in a statement to "She looks forward to inviting him to spend some time with her at the Food Network studios."

"Ina receives approximately 100 requests a month to support charitable causes that deeply affect people's lives," the statement continued. "She contributes both personally and financially on a regular basis to numerous causes, including to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Sadly, it's of course not possible to do them all. Throughout her life, Ina has contributed generously to all kinds of important efforts and she will continue to do so."

In 2010, Make-A-Wish reportedly made its first attempt to arrange a meeting between the celebrity chef and Enzo, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia three years ago. Pereda often watched The Barefoot Contessa while resting in bed.

The boy was turned down last year and again this month. Pereda's mother described their family's ordeal in a recent post on her blog:

"As we were arriving home from the hospital I got word from 'Make A Wish' that it is has been officially confirmed that Ina Garten (the 'Barefoot Contessa' ) has declined Enzo's wish to meet her and cook a meal with her," she wrote.

"I felt terrible for him, he has been unwavering in his desire to meet her for three years and despite many attempts to get him to pick a second wish or change his mind he would not. Last year Ina gave a 'soft no' supposedly because she had a 10-month book tour and they called and asked him what he wanted to do and he said 'I will wait' and he did."

Pereda's mother added that when she told her son the news, he simply replied, "Why doesn't she want to meet me?"

Make-A-Wish backed up Garten. A spokesperson for the foundation told, "From time to time, planning for wishes doesn't turn out as originally envisioned, despite people's best intentions and efforts throughout the wish-granting process." Make-A-Wish said that Garten is a "good friend" of the charity.

Representatives for Make-A-Wish did not immediately respond to's requests for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio