clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Robert Irvine Effect: Padding the Chef Resume

New, 5 comments

A couple weeks ago, the St. Petersburg Times in Florida caught Food Network personality/chef Robert Irvine (Dinner: Impossible) in a web of untruths---that he was a knight and worked at the White House are just a couple gems. After the story made its way around the blogosphere, his bio was removed from the Food Network website and tweaked on Wikipedia. Kinda shady. But this reminds us of a story we heard about a chef in Riverside, Brein Clements at Omakase, which was just reviewed in the Los Angeles Times. In addition to getting two stars from S. Irene Virbila, she touts Clements "stints" at several notable restaurants in the Bay Area, including Manresa in Los Gatos. Odd thing is, no one from that restaurant seems to remember him.

This all started when Clements cooked at the Beard House in New York in December. A chef friend of a chef friend noticed that the menu for his "rare citrus" dinner resembled the citrus dinners from David Kinch, chef and owner of Manresa. Both chefs work directly with local citrus growers, so it was a possible coincidence. But it didn't sit well with the staff at Manresa. Clements' bio on the Omakase website said:

"he accepted chef de partie positions at two of the city's most renowned establishments, restaurant elisabeth daniel, under chef daniel patterson & restaurant gary danko. it was this time that he was living in san francisco's historic japan town, learning not only the cuisine, but the culture. next brein headed south for the town of los gatos where he apprenticed under chef david kinch at manresa."
But Kinch has no recollection or record of Clements working at Manresa whatsoever. He told Eater: "We don't have a Brein Clements in our payroll records going back to day one, therefore, he was never officially an employee. He says he was in the kitchen for 4 days before walking out but I don't remember him." If he was "an apprentice," he would've signed on to stage (intern) for at least a month, the minimum in Kinch's kitchen. Chef Daniel Patterson from now-shuttered Elisabeth Daniel also doesn't remember Clements. We never heard back from Gary Danko.

Clements told Eater:

My time spent at Manresa, Elizabeth Daniel and Gary Danko was indeed short; however, it was not non-existent. I have never billed my time at those restaurants as anything else and have never claimed to have held long-term positions at any of those restaurants. I spoke with Chef Kinch of Manresa personally on this issue and while he doesn't fully remember me (my time was cut short there after the passing of my grandfather), he does still have my resume on file. And when I spoke with Irene, we didn't go into much detail about my past, which, I assume, is why she chose to use the word "stint", as that is exactly what my time at those restaurants was.
Again, Kinch told us he has no resume or record from Clements on file. One can only think the reason Miss Irene got out to Riverside to visit Omakase at all was because of this chef's fine pedigree. We can't say one way or the other if Clements worked at these places; he's so sure he did. But should such a short time in anyone's kitchen be part of a resume? Is it fair to the chefs who put in hard time, day and night, earning the praise these restaurants received? If he's that good, why mar things with sketchy facts? Who's he trying to impress, the Beard House and critics or the customers? Clements has since changed his bio: After the phone calls, he removed mentions of those Bay Area restaurants from the Omakase website.
· TV Chef Spiced Up Past Exploits [St. Petersburg Times]
· Robert Irvine's Bio Pulled From Food Network [Serious Eats]
· Restaurant Omakase: A citrus twist in Riverside [LAT]

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Los Angeles newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world