Businesses wasted little time cutting ties with John Besh’s restaurant group after Saturday’s exposé on the widespread sexual harassment at the chef’s critically acclaimed company. Harrah’s New Orleans (home of Besh Steak) and American Public Television (syndicator of his cooking shows) were the first, and Top Chef is said to be “evaluating” an episode where he’s a judge. More defections will follow, no doubt. However, he’s still in the good graces of at least one partner, for now — the famed South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
He’s scheduled to host a dinner on February 24 at the large, Food Network–backed festival with Scott Conant, a Food Network regular. The event listing says the duo will bring “their award-winning charm and talent” to the Miami outpost of Conant’s Scarpetta. The “seafood-focused culinary mash-up” is already sold-out, but tickets were priced at $250 apiece.
The festival’s press team hasn’t responded yet to questions from Grub, but its media manager Devonie Nicholas told the Miami Herald, “We are saddened by the news and feel badly for all those affected. John is a fan favorite and longtime supporter of the Festival.” She added that they “do not anticipate” that the growing number of allegations will affect Besh’s presence.
But Besh’s co-host is less enthused about proceeding as planned. Conant says in a statement to Grub that they’re in “active talks” to replace him:
We have not yet connected with John Besh’s team, but we’ve been in active talks with both the Festival founders and Fontainebleau and plan to take this event in a different direction with a new chef. For many years, Scarpetta Miami has successfully hosted these guest chef dinners. We wish to continue to support the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s charitable efforts and will have an update soon on how we will move forward.