|By JULIETTE ROSSANT |
How do we judge Karine Bakhoum?
Remember Quiz Show, the film starring Ralph Fiennes as contestant Charles Van Doren on the game show Twenty-One? He succumbs to the urgings of the show's producers (and his own greed and vanity) and cheats?
This time around, it isn't the contestant who has come into question, but one of the show's judges.
The show is Iron Chef America.
When Graham Elliot Bowles lost to Iron Chef Bobby Flay, the judges included Karine Bakhoum. She voted heavily in favor of Bobby Flay, while the other two judges, journalist Jeffrey Steingarten and author cum Queer Eye star Ted Allen, voted in favor of Graham.
Karine commented to The Chicago Tribune:
My favorite dish of the whole competition was Chef Bowles' bison, because it was the most intriguing, the most original, it was flavorful and for me it was the most satisfying dish.So started the affair.
The Tribune noted:
For what it's worth, that one person, Bakhoum, owns a public-relations company, KB Network News, that lists Flay as a former client; she has represented one of his restaurants, his catering company and three of his cookbooks. She currently represents an Atlantic City hotel and casino that houses another Flay restaurant. But she said Flay has his own publicist, and she has not received money from him in ages.
( -- So, you know, maybe she was hoping, like, Bobby would pay off, like, an old, outstanding bill or something? -- Bada-boom, bada bing, you know? It ain't personal: it's business -- Ching!)
The Food Network said:
Bruce Seidel said via e-mail that Bakhoum's history was "not an issue. Almost all the judges know of, have heard of or eaten the Iron Chefs' food outside of Kitchen Stadium. It's unavoidable, and we feel she is an impartial judge."There is a difference between eating at a chef's restaurant, and having (or trying to regain) a client service agreement.
Graham has not commented -- yet.
Super Chef believes that Karine faces a serious conflict of interest as a judge: how could she have offered to serve as judge of a former client?
While this scandal takes off in Print, the Blogosphere has been tracking another business scandal involving Karine Bakhoum.
Karine is married to Pascal Riffaud, owner of PrimeTimeTables, a concierge service that receives fees to customers get tables at exclusive restaurants.
Last month, Eater.com lowered the charge of scalping against PrimeTimeTables and has suggested that Karine's restaurant relationship have been helping PrimeTimeTables unfairly. Gothamist has furthe spread the word. Even The New York Times has reported on the story, quoting other publicists, like Jennifer Baum of Bullfrog & Baum, who weighs in against using accepting money for a reservation.
“There’s always that level of who you know,” said Jennifer Baum, one of the city’s most prominent restaurant publicists. “I get calls all the time — can you squeeze me in, can you get me a table? I try to accommodate, but sometimes I just can’t. But I would never take money for a reservation. It’s about a level of integrity.”Super Chef asks, Why is a publicist serving as a judge on Iron Chef America in the first place?
Forget the past relationship with Bobby Flay: any publicist who serves chefs as clients cannot possibly serve impartially as a judge: every chef is a potential client.
Should audiences urge The Food Network to judge judges more judiciously?
What do you think? Do you agree with Super Chef?
Please let us know in the comments section, below.
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[Food Television - complete]
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