Every kitchen or bar has one. The guy with the tall tales that seem so unbelievable you daren’t call him out on it.
It usually gets to the point that you just accept the fantasies and smirk and roll your eyes with your colleagues when he drops another one. It’s not the worst thing in the world, some people just feel the need to paint their lives with colourful stories. If the tales are harmless that is.
This week a self-proclaimed “celebrity chef”, Michael DePasquale made headlines in Philadelphia Magazine for not only claiming that he served as a Marine but also that he counted the late and beloved Anthony Bourdain as a close friend and business partner.
The offending chef had first appeared in a South Philly Review article about his Broadway New York Cheesecake Company, on South Street in which DePasquale made lofty claims, not only about his close relationship with Bourdain, but the article as an appointed United States Culinary Ambassador.
It’s possible that these spurious claims might have gone unchallenged were it not for the sterling journalist work of Philadelphia Magazine’s Victor Fiorillo, who upon reading the article wondered why he’d never heard this name before. The same question was being raised on South Philly Facebook Pages which spurred Fiorillo to do some digging.
Among other grand claims Fiorillo unearthed on YouTube were that DePasquale was world-famed pizza chef”, that he had “cooked for several presidents”, that he was conducting a private investigation into Bourdain’s untimely death (using, according to South Philly Review, “resources from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the presidential cabinet”) and that he had completed three tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and Fallujah.
While Bourdain obviously couldn’t substantiate DePasquale’s claims Fiorillo contacted the US Marine Corps, who provided an official statement saying they had no record of DePasquale ever having served in the Marines. Fiorillo conducted a solid background check and could find no evidence to back up any of DePasquale’s claims. Consequently, the original South Philly article disappeared from the site and the publication issued a statement saying it ‘aims for high journalistic standards’ and that ‘allegations from a source close to Bourdain discredited information in the piece’. According to Fiorillo, DePasquale has threatened him with litigation.
We’ve all heard the guy with the impossibly tall tales and DePasquale probably would have gotten away with it, had he not ragged Bourdain’s name into it. It would seem to the general public, who still mourn the loss of the great chef, that that was just going too far. Bravo Victor Fiorillo!