Yet another high-profile man has been accused of sexual assault. This time, it is celebrity pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini. The fallout in this particular situation has resulted in a talented female chef missing out on the spotlight that she deserves.
The Great American Baking Competition premiered in early December. Iuzzini was its celebrity host and he was also one of the show’s judges. All episodes had been taped prior to airing, and similar to other cooking competitions like Top Chef or The Great British Baking Show before it, it promised to propel its winner into a lucrative career in the industry. But soon after millions of people viewed the first two episodes, Iuzzini was accused of sexual assault by four former pastry chefs at Jean-Georges, where he had previously worked. According to Scary Mommy, employees at the high-end restaurant “described the atmosphere created in the pastry kitchens under Iuzzini as ‘rampant with sexual harassment.'” As a result of the allegations, the Great American Baking Competition was pulled from the air. That meant that the show’s winner, Vallery Lomas, would never reap the benefits of coming out on top in the highly competitive show.
Lomas, who had a book proposal ready to go on the coattails of her win, will unlikely see the same results as previous winners. “Former winners of the Great British Baking Show have gone on to very quick stardom and career advancement. One is now a coveted food writer. Many host cooking shows. Some have published books and gone on tours.” Instead, Lomas was given a 15-minute Facebook Live video which got 10,000 views — far fewer than a televised finale would have garnered.
Clearly Iuzzini’s victims of sexual assault were not the only ones to suffer from the chef’s abhorrent behavior. Despite the outcome, Lomas is staying positive. On her blog, she wrote, “…I am no less determined than I was during the final challenge… I’m holding on to that same perseverance now. I’m making lemon curd from these lemons.”