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HSN drops chef's items

The Home Shopping Network had sold eight products by Robert Irvine.

By Laura Reiley, Times Restaurant Critic
Published February 21, 2008


Chef Robert Irvine's twin restaurant projects at 400 Beach Drive in St. Petersburg appear to be on track despite the dirt floor of one.
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[Scott Keeler | Times]
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Chef Robert Irvine admits exaggerating parts of his resume.

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ST. PETERSBURG - Home Shopping Network has dropped all products promoted by celebrity chef Robert Irvine in the continued fallout from his recently reported resume padding.

Irvine, star of the Food Network show Dinner: Impossible and could-be St. Petersburg restaurateur, admitted in a St. Petersburg Times story Sunday that he exaggerated about his past. He had wooed business partners, socialites and a nation of foodies with bogus tales of knighthood and White House dinners.

St. Petersburg-based HSN sold eight different Robert Irvine products on its Web site, including cookware, knives and a mandoline slicer. Some of the products were produced by Irvine, such as his book and spice mixes, and others merely carried his name.

"At HSN we were stunned by the revelations," said Nancy Bushkin, vice president of public relations and communications. "The trusting relationship we have with our customers is fundamental. With that in mind, we have pulled all existing inventory from Mr. Irvine while we review the situation. I have no idea what the future holds."

In St. Petersburg, Irvine's restaurant projects Ooze and Schmooze, planned for the ground floor of a Beach Drive condo building, appear on track. Project manager Rodney Moore anticipates the opening is four to five months away, "depending on the complexity of the final design."

Interior designer Sarah Stauffer also sees an opening later this spring. "I don't make prejudgments," she said. "I've been paid up to this point."

Calls attempting to reach Irvine through his business partner J. Randall Williams went unreturned Wednesday.

In other developments:

-HarperCollins, publisher of Irvine's autobiographical cookbook Mission: Cook!, said its relationship with Irvine is uncertain.

"We are reviewing the issues, spokeswoman Erin Crum said.

-Irvine pulled out of this weekend's Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, where he was to perform two cooking demos, festival marketing director Patrick Jong said.

-Tom Briglia, who shot the photographs for Mission: Cook!, now says the chef has not paid for the work.

"I knew he wasn't exactly on the up and up," Briglia says, "but I never expected him not to pay me."

Briglia says Irvine owes him $3,300 for the published photos of Irvine's dishes, such as apricot ravioli with sabayon and Nantucket Bay scallop ceviche. He says he didn't have a written contract. He says when Irvine couldn't pay, the chef promised to pay him from proceeds for his second book.

"He would make big promises," Briglia says. "He'd say, 'I'll get you a tour of the White House.'"

-Wednesday, Irvine's bio had been taken off his own Web site, chefrobertirvine.com.

Laura Reiley can be reached at lreiley@sptimes.com or 727 892-2293. Staff writer Ben Montgomery contributed to this report.

Celebrity chef on Web

For previous coverage of TV chef Robert Irvine and to read his resume, go to food.tampabay.com.

[Last modified February 20, 2008, 23:50:14]


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