Updated: Food Network is in the midst of their successful series The Next Food Network Star, which gives ordinary cooks a chance at having their own Food Network show. Unfortunately (though for ratings purposes, fortunately), there is some heat surrounding one of the finalists.
Josh Garcia, or JAG, as he goes by on the program, said that he had been a corporal in the Marine Corps, a grunt who served in Afghanistan as an infantryman before moving to food service. After leaving the corps, he attended the New York Restaurant School, and is now the chef de cuisine at a popular North Carolina restaurant.
The problem is that with the exception of his current title, everything else on his resume may be, how can I put this… cooked up. The Army Times has a blistering expose, examining his record and resume, trying to separate fact from fiction:
"Touted as a graduate of the New York Restaurant School, a former corporal and a grunt-turned-cook who served in Afghanistan, Garcia’s record is actually much less stellar. He didn’t spend nearly two years in the infantry, he didn’t deploy to any war zone, and while it’s unclear whether he was ever a corporal, what is clear is that the Corps showed him to the door nearly eight months early, as a private. Oh yeah, and he never finished culinary school in New York."
TVFoodFan blog has even more coverage, including an interview with Paul Reickhoff, executive director of The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Paul is understandably not pleased.
Food Network did release a statement concerning the situation:
“Food Network remains committed to fully investigating Josh Garcia’s background,” Cara Brugnoli, a network spokeswoman, said Tuesday. “We are working with the military and others to conduct our research and we will release any relevant details when appropriate.”
To their credit, Food Network looks like they are taking the issue seriously. However, because nearly the entire season has been pre-recorded, and so far Garcia is still in the running, there is some potential for serious problems if Garcia is one of the two finalists.
Of course, if the video below is any indication, Garcia may have even more problems ahead. On a scale of one to ten, how funny is it to throw a Macbook? A toddler? Yeah, not so funny. I want my Food Network hosts to throw down some good food, not expensive computer equipment or small children.
And I would prefer to have a host who is honest and likeable, not someone who may have embellished their past to try and gain some acceptance or respect. Definitely not good eats.
Update: Garcia is no longer on the show, The Marine Corps Times has the story.