You can call Leonard “Chef Lenny” Ruebeck’s bid to defraud Carneys Point, New Jersey, of $10,000 with a bogus Dinner Impossible BBQ a case of art imitating life. Well, maybe art is a stretch. How ‘bout we call it real life people imitating Food Network personalities? Like DI‘s host Robert Irvine (who has since been brought back to Food Network after first being caught putting together a heavily trumped-up resume), Ruebeck sported a phony Food Network chef’s jacket and a bogus Iron Chef medal to convince locals that he was bringing celebs such as Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, and Rachael Ray to town for the barbecue, and sold tickets to the event for $35 a pop, according to Today’s Sunbeam.
But one vigilant Carneys Point resident got a whiff of bullshit while taking a cooking class with Ruebeck — said resident observed that the presumed TV chef didn’t “have any of the basic skills a chef should have.” At her urging, township officials reached out to the Food Network, and Shooters TV Inc., a Philadelphia-based production company affiliated with the network, which both denied any involvement with Ruebeck or the event. The phony chef was not charged with any crimes after making full restitution to ticket buyers. He’s allegedly pulled similar scams in Pennsylvania and Delaware.