When Good Chefs Go Bad! Mark Iacono Isn't the Only One
The recent stabbing of Mark Iacono of the much-ballyhooed pizzeria Lucali in what appeared to be a mob-style altercation reminded us that chefs aren't always angels. Iacono was in Joe's Superette -- an old-fashioned store open at irregular hours at the bucolic corner of Carroll and Smith streets -- when he got into an argument with a wise guy. A few minutes later, he was slashed with a knife as he was walking down the street, leaving him in critical condition.
The slasher turned out to be reputed mob associate Benny Geritano, who was arrested and now faces attempted murder charges. But here's the twist: Chef Iacono himself is facing attempted murder charges, too, and what appeared to be a routine disagreement between two acquaintances in a bodega now seems to be just another minor subplot from The Sopranos. Anyone who's said of the obscurely located Lucali (where Jay-Z and Beyoncé have been enthusiastic patrons), "This feels like a mob spot" -- was right! Maybe the pizzeria wasn't so safe after all for those moms and dads with their strollers who populate the place in the early evening.
Did you think that just because chefs wear white hats, they always operate on the side of virtue? Not on your life! Here are more examples of Good Chefs Going Bad.
Celebrity chef, TV Food Network star, and restaurant owner David Ruggerio pleaded guilty in 1999 to stealing more than $140,000 from patrons of his big-ticket restaurant Le Chantilly on Manhattan's Upper East Side. During a two-month period in 1998, Ruggerio added $140,000 in tips to $4,000 in credit card receipts run up at his restaurant. How he thought he could get away with it is beyond us, but he must have chosen patrons he thought wouldn't examine their credit card statements too carefully.
Prosecutors maintained Ruggerio committed the crime, a felony, in order to solve temporary cash-flow problems. The chef claimed it was a "bookkeeping error." He got by with just a slap on the wrist, getting five years' probation instead of what might have been a seven-year stretch, and agreeing to pay $100,000 in restitution to the credit card company. Additionally, the felony charge means he can't hold a liquor license anymore, though there are several possible dodges around this regulation. His TV show, Ruggerio to Go, was also canceled. The Food Network should have simply changed the title to Ruggerio on the Lam.