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Rick Bayless and Burger King - Part 3


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The guy made a mistake 6 years ago and then gave away all of the money he earned because of it.

I'd ask what he'd need to do to have people drop the issue, but I already know the answer: He'd have to stop being successful. As long as he is successful, people will continue to rub his nose in that BK ad, as if anyone actually remembers or cares about it.

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I'd ask what he'd need to do to have people drop the issue

I can only answer for myself.

First, he could say he was wrong.

Second, in terms of the discussion in our forums, the issue was dropped for more than five years. When it came up again, I said it was forgivable. Then somebody noted that he gave the money to charity, and I pointed out that I remember that decision being damage control. People wouldn't let it go, and here we are. I'd be happy to drop it for another five years, but I know enough about online discussion to be confident that's not going to happen.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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When I bumped this thread I should have known that I was just throwing a match on a dormant pile of kindling! :biggrin:

However, my intention was just to point out that what some people think (and/or say) about what chefs do in life is largely irrelvant (unless you're name is Rocco DiSpirito). We all make mistakes and we all get criticized for them but as they say, the best revenge is living a successful life. In that sense, Bayless can probably look back on the the BK episode with a certain sense of satisfaction. Nothing anyone said (or thought) about it appears to have made a lick of difference, nor is it ever likely to at this point. The guy's a force and an unequivocable success. He's a great chef, a benefactor and a fine entrepreneur, as well. I suppose he could say he was wrong but even if he truly feels that way, he doesn't need to.


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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From what I recall, Rick Bayless was more patronizing in his endorsement of a "healthier" new line of low-fat chicken sandwiches at Burger King than hypocritical. Definitely compromising his principles, but out of the belief that if the American public was going to eat fast food, at least he could steer them toward a menu item that wasn't packed with grease, fat, processed cheese, etc. and didn't cry out for an accompaniment of fries.

Not sure what the historical sequence was: Oprah sued after vowing not to eat beef again, Bayless's commercial and the rise of the McNugget, but wasn't our hero's endorsement at a time when hamburgers were the overwhelming choice of the American public? Certainly, Jared wasn't even a twinkle in Subway's eye, Michael Pollan was writing about letting your lawn grow wild and The Naked Chef wasn't telling kids how gross processed chicken is. So, no one was questioning how humanely raised or "natural" the animal protein was, but some were worried about red meat and cholesterol.

In any respect, the flack from a misguided appeal to the masses clearly embarrassed the guy (I remember being outraged) and he did try to make amends.

Now, the person who really owes the American public an apology for food endorsements is Doctor William H. Cosby, Jr. Granted, he's not a culinary professional. However, he's all about the kids. Shouldn't he be as concerned about their bodies as he is about their emotional well-being?

Someone should send him to a famous organic garden south of Philadelphia where he could hold a press conference and apologize for all those Jell-O ads.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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