Small Axe is a short series that recently made its way to BBC One and iPlayer. It couldn’t have come at a better time considering the global rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which started earlier in 2020. The series covers different stories and experiences of Black people who have lived in the UK, along with some of the challenges that they’ve both faced and overcome. The opening episode revolves around one restaurant, Mangrove.
Small Axe: A Short Series
Each episode of Small Axe is different and tells a completely different story regarding Black people in the UK. The first episode told the story of the Mangrove Nine, who were a group of Black activists that were charged with causing riots at a protest in 1970. They were later acquitted after going through with a trial that was highly publicized.
The trial went on for 55 days, and the 9 defendants were acquitted after evidence showed the motivation and actions of the Metropolitan Police officers were less than justified.
The Mangrove Restaurant
The entire first episode was centered around the Mangrove restaurant, which was located in Notting Hill, on All Saints Road. It was a Caribbean restaurant owned by Frank Crichlow, a Trinidadian activist, and campaigner. He was also one of the Mangrove Nine.
Mangrove quickly grew to be the heart of the community after it opened for business in 1968. It also became the informal head office of the Notting Hill Carnival, and it also helped publish The Hustler, a local newspaper. The restaurant was also a meeting place for many people in the Black community which, in turn, made it a target for the Metropolitan Police.
The restaurant permanently closed in 1992, after it was subjected to multiple police raids throughout the 1980s. Frank Crichlow was also prohibited from entering or going near Mangrove after the raids. Due to these circumstances and the changing of the economy in the area, the restaurant failed.
In its place now is a late-night cocktail bar and restaurant called The Little Yellow Door.
Questionable Financial Dealings By Bobby Flay
Back in 2009, Bobby Flay was perhaps the Food Network‘s biggest talent at the time, but he came under fire from workers at two of his New York restaurants. Though he seems like a good guy on TV, his employees filed a suit saying there was some malfeasance in the financial area.
These employees alleged that Flay paid poorly and that they were cheated out of their tips. Bobby denied this, but he still settled out of court for a hefty fee.
Gordan Ramsay’s Verbal Abuse
Gordon Ramsay is kind of known for being a harsh, no-nonsense kind of guy when it comes to critiquing food. However, when that translates over to being the host of a live television show, there may just be a problem.
At an event in Australia in 2009, Ramsay took a chance with a picture and some very demeaning comments. The broadcaster that was attacked handled it well, but there was still blowback from the network.
Paula Deen’s Oversight
Paula Deen has had plenty of things crop up that have tarnished the image of the network. In 2013, one of her employees was interviewed by a major publication where she talked about her role in the rise of Paula Deen’s star.
Dora Charles said she had been with Paula the whole time and helped her, all with no financial reward for her efforts. The woman let the world know that the whole time she was the right hand of the southern chef, she never made more than $10 per hour.
Alton Brown’s Clap Back
In 2015, Anthony Bourdain went on a tour, during which he made some comments about Food Network stars not being real cooks. To this, Alton Brown stood up and spoke out about this major insult.
Alton Brown used his experience as a chef on Food Network for over ten years to prove the fact that he was a chef. He also spat back that he had never seen Bourdain cook anything on any of his shows, either.
Robert Irvine’s Resume
Many of us pad our resume when we are looking for a new job. It’s not necessarily lying, but it is embellishing what we have done. In 2008, it was brought to light that the star of Dinner: Impossible, Robert Irvine, lied on his resume.
He claimed to have worked on the wedding cake for Diana and Charles, as well made dinner for four different presidents and was knighted by the Queen herself. All of these were lies, so the Food Network quickly found a replacement until the heat died down.
Paula Deen’s Illness
What do you do when your chef is known for loading on the butter and sugar… and then they are diagnosed with diabetes? In 2012, Paula Deen found herself in a bit of an awkward position when she announced to the world that she had Type 2 Diabetes.
The bad thing is that this diagnosis had been delivered three years before she announced it to her fans, but the announcement itself seemed a little suspect. The Deen family had just signed a deal with a pharmaceutical company to promote an insulin treatment.
Tip Pooling at Graham Elliot’s Restaurants
Graham Elliot found a place in the halls of the Food Network when he was a contestant on Iron Chef. He went on to be one of the judges of Fox’s Master Chef, as well, but he is not free from controversy at all.
In 2012, he was accused by several members of his staff of pooling their tips to divvy up later evenly. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually illegal if not done for employees that don’t receive tips. He eventually settled out of court.
Anne Burrell’s Employee Problems
Anne Burrell is one of the premier female talents on the Food Network. Of course, if you have been around for a long time, you will remember she found her fame working as a sous chef for Mario Batali on Iron Chef. Perhaps, this was because they have similar personalities, as in 2009 she was sued for discrimination.
Allegedly, Anne was very demeaning toward her staff, making mean and hurtful comments about their personal lives and appearance. She has never talked about the allegation nor the settlement she ended up paying.
Make-A-Wish Get’s the Cold Shoulder from Ina Garten
When Ina Garten invites you into her kitchen, you get the feeling that she is warm and cheerful at all times. However, this may be a trick of the camera and good writing. At least, that’s what the folks at Make-A-Wish may say.
This is because the Barefoot Contessa has actually declined wishes from the foundation on two separate occasions. Both times, she gave an excuse of being too busy, but once the incidents came to light, she quickly changed her answer.
Bankruptcy & Geoffrey Zakarian
Zakarian had already been putting a dent in the Food Network’s reputation with the lawsuits that had been filed against him in 2011. Pay tampering and charging his employees for food they had never eaten were just a few of the allegations.
This lawsuit cost him over a million dollars, so on the back end of his troubles with the law, Geoffrey had to file for bankruptcy, too! Zakarian denied the allegations and said the money was just too much, and this is why the bankruptcy had to happen.
Anthony Bourdain Calling Out His Peers
Anthony Bourdain was a no-nonsense guy who never pulled any punches. This is especially true when it was in regards to how he felt about fellow celebrity chefs like Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray.
Whether he really liked the chefs or not, there was always some backhanded comment about actually being able to cook. In fact, it seemed that the only Food Network star that was exempt was Ina Garten, whom he felt could really cook!
Giada De Laurentiis’ Affair?
In 2015, both Giada and her long time friend Bobby Flay ended their marriages. This caught the attention of the tabloids, as many felt that this was no coincidence. In fact, many of them thought this was a surefire signal that something had been going on between the two of them.
However, both parties denied the allegations. Giada even went on to say that she and Bobby were really close, having developed a friendship over years of working together. She also said that nothing was ever going to happen romantically.
Alleged Sexism from Guy Fieri
Guy Fieri is known as one of the rebel chefs of the Food Network. But there is only so much that the networks can take, especially when the accusations are regarding inappropriate behavior. The chef has been accused of making sexist comments and attacks on the personal lives of his crew.
Along with this, he apparently likes to look at certain parts of the female body a little too much. The editors of his shows have been instructed to watch his line of sight and make sure that his wandering eye doesn’t make it on camera.
Bobby Flay Walking Out
Usually, you give your boss a two-week notice before you quit a project, but not Bobby Flay. In 2017, after being on Iron Chef for years, the chef ripped off his apron to reveal a note to the executives.
It simply said this is my last Iron Chef. No one knew about this, so it came as quite a shock. He went on to continue working for the network. Later, he would explain the schedule of the show and all his other projects had just become too much.
Law Troubles For Mario
Mario Batali is one of those Food Network stars who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. For instance, in 2010, his name was splashed all over the headlines for his supposed collusion in tip skimming.
Accused of taking a small percentage of his staff’s tips to help boost his sommeliers’ salaries, he ended up in a settlement. This settlement cost the celebrity chef over 5 million dollars and took two years to come to a close.
Lies From the Next Food Network Star
The Next Food Network Star has ushered in many fresh faces to the network and into the celebrity chef circle. But one of these actually brought with them a little bit of controversy. Season 3’s breakout star was Josh Adam Garcia.
This contestant claimed that he had served in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. However, he never did any of that. He was in the service, that much is clear, but anything above that seems to be an exaggeration.
Hypocrisy From Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver has been working in the business for a while and built a brand around healthy eating. He went one step further when he went on record in 2008 against how chickens were treated before finding their way to the shelves of grocery stores.
Unfortunately for him, he was a bit hypocritical, as he had a deal with Sainsbury, one of the biggest grocery stores in the UK. Sainsbury had said they were not going to change their ways, so this put Jamie in a bit of a pickle. Eventually, Sainsbury rolled back their statement and embraced more organic farming.
Giada Doesn’t Eat Her Own Food?
Can you imagine how hard it would be to keep your girlish figure if you had to eat food for a living? Some of these shows take multiple takes to get it right. So it kind of makes sense that they wouldn’t eat all of their food.
However, it was quite the controversy when it came to light that Giada De Laurentiis has a spit bucket and uses a double for eating when close-ups are in the shot list.
Not So Natural Ingredients
Rachael Ray is one of the biggest names when it comes to celebrity chefs. She has had several shows and released tons of products with her name on them. One of these put her love of animals together with her love of cooking.
She developed an all-natural dog food, but in 2018, this claim was challenged in a lawsuit. Allegedly, there was proof of an herbicide in the ingredients that would make it less than natural. The case ended up dismissed, but it still left a dent in Ray’s reputation.
Marcela Valladolid’s Stepping Out
In 2013, two Food Network stars made their imprint on the tabloids across the globe. Marcela Valladolid and Paul Hollywood found themselves in a relationship. Unfortunately, both parties were actually married at the time.
Eventually, both would be served, and their marriages ended. Paul’s wife and he would work it out, but Marcela would end up single. Later, she would find love again, but the scandal left the network with a tarnished image.
Happily Ever After?
For years, those who watched Pat and Gina Neely thought they were the ideal couple. Happy and in sync, they lived this image for 11 seasons. Because they were so good at acting, when the two split in 2014, it was a shock to all of their fans and the Food Network.
In an interview four years later, Gina would talk about how she was just about to file for legal separation when they got the green light for their show.
Nigella Lawson’s Problem
Nigella Lawson is by far one of the most popular British chefs on the network. She comes across as so prim and proper. So when it came out that she had taken illicit substances a few times, we were all shocked.
This revelation happened in court, as she was bringing charges against two of her former assistants for theft. The accused assistants said that the chef had said they could have the cash if they kept quiet about her substance problem.
Insensitivity from the Pioneer Woman
Wholesome is probably one of the words that many think of when they think of Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. Thus, the controversy around her insensitive remarks surprised a lot of viewers.
This all stemmed from some comments made on an episode where she was cooking different chicken wings. After one scene dealing with Asian-style wings, there were some who felt the episode was demeaning Asian culture. She apologized in the end.
Jamie Oliver & Cultural Appropriation
In 2018, Jaime Oliver found himself back in the hot seat, this time accused of cultural appropriation. Over the years, Jamie has released several products. But when he went to release a jerked rice, this seemed to irritate some people.
Several people of Jamaican ancestry weighed in on the allegation, and it didn’t seem to be going in Jamie’s favor. The chef would later explain that he just wanted to show how much he loved Caribbean cuisine.
DUI For Cat Cora
In 2012, celebrity chef Cat Cora found her name in the headlines of many gossip rags. She had crashed her BMW, and when tested, she came in at twice the legal limit. After being taken in and sentenced to a suspended sentence and probation for 3 years, she would release an apology statement.
She released a statement that talked about her poor choices and ended with an apology. Though the infraction wouldn’t go unnoticed, she still made her amends.