Best Of 2008

BEST BLOWING THE LID OFF: “TV chef spiced up his past exploits,” by Ben Montgomery of the St. Petersburg Times

“Sir” Robert Irvine came to St. Petersburg with a cooking resume and a new Food Network show. His plans for the ’Burg were big: two new signature restaurants, Ooze and Schmooze, that he hoped would put the city on the culinary map. But there was a dark side: Friends said he was rude and abusive to chefs; he kept asking for more financing for his venture when his earlier financiers thought he had enough funding; and then he suddenly canceled his condo lease and became scarce around these parts. Key elements of his resume were lies, and the Times feature writer Montgomery got on the story. He proved up to the task, not only digging into every corner of Irvine’s past, but writing it with a narrative flair. The story doesn’t read like a dry investigation; it is the portrait of a man coming unraveled as, in the end, Irvine concedes (at least in part) that he is not the person he portrayed himself as.