Pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini has been accused of sexual misconduct. On Wednesday, December 13, ABC announced that The Great American Baking Show was cancelled following news of these allegations, which surfaced in late November.
“In light of allegations that recently came to our attention, ABC has ended its relationship with Johnny Iuzzini and will not be airing the remainder of The Great American Baking Show episodes. ABC takes matters such as those described in the allegations very seriously and has come to the conclusion that they violate our standards of conduct. This season’s winner will be announced at a later date. Episodes of The Great Christmas Light Fight and CMA Country Christmas will take its place this week and next,” ABC said in a statement.
Here is what you need to know:
1. He Has Been Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Several Women
Iuzzini was accused of sexual harassment by four former employees last month. The Mic interviewed the four women, agreeing to keep their identities private.
One of the women was a pastry chef at Jean-Georges in New York where Iuzzini worked. She told Mic that Iuzzini unexpectedly approached her and put his tongue in her ear. Ultimately, this caused her to quit her job.
“Iuzzini repeated the offense ‘three or four times’ on separate occasions, said the pastry chef, who worked under him for nearly two years. ‘I cried every time,’ said the chef, who spoke to Mic on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy. She did not report the incidents to management at the time, but she did tell a friend, who confirmed to Mic that she heard the story shortly after it happened. The pastry chef resigned later that year, not in reaction to any single incident, she said, but because of the culmination of Iuzzini’s behavior toward her: ‘I left because of the way he treated me.’
A second woman, who worked as an extern, told the outlet that “part of [her] job” was to give Iuzzini a shoulder rub after every shift.
“He would always make me give him a shoulder rub, every day — that was part of my job, when I signed off,” she explained.
After the accusations were made, Iuzzini released the following statement, which included an apology.
“I am shattered and heartbroken at the thought that any of my actions left members of my team feeling hurt or degraded. More importantly, I am deeply sorry to those who felt hurt,” Iuzzini said in a statement to Mic.
In addition, Iuzzini was accused of abusing drugs. One woman that spoke with The Mic said that she witnessed him “using cocaine.” Iuzzini vehemently denied any drug use.
The outlet went on to report that even more women have come forward since those initial accusations, but Iuzzini has denied those claims, saying that are “simply untrue.”
“There is a difference between accepting responsibility for my immaturity and allowing false claims and accusations to be reported,” he told the outlet.
2. He Has Been on ‘The Great American Baking Show’ Since 2015
The Great American Baking Show has been on the air since 2015 and Iuzzini has been a staple since Day 1. Backing up huge celebrity chefs like Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, Iuzzini was the perfect pastry critic — and has the experience to back him up (you’ll read about that in Fact 3).
In addition to The Great American Baking Show, Iuzzini has appeared on several other television shows.
“[He] has been a featured guest and judge on numerous television shows including Martha Stewart, Top Chef, Today in New York, Paula’s Party, Today Show, Good Morning America, Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America, Beat Bobby Flay, and Sugar Showdown. He was the head judge of bravo’s culinary competition series Top Chef Just Desserts for two seasons,” reads his website.
3. He Was Named Executive Pastry Chef at Jean-Georges Restaurant in New York Back in 2002
Legendary chef Jean Georges opened his namesake restaurant in 1997 in New York City. Known to exemplify the “very best in fine dining,” Jean Georges restaurant blends together French, American, and Asian influences to make one exquisite menu.
“Chef Jean-Georges is a master at maintaining the essence of ingredients while using them inventively to produce the best flavor. Jean-Georges’ chic and intimate dining room was redesigned by Thomas Juul-Hansen, with striking lighting by L’Observatoire. Impeccable service, tableside preparations, and floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of Central Park and Columbus Circle all contribute to an unforgettable dining experience.”
In 2002, Iuzzini joined the Jean-Georges family. In 2003, he was named one of the ten best pastry chefs in America by trade bible Pastry Art & Design, according to New York Magazine.
He previously worked as a sous-chef at Payard. He previously worked for French chef David Boulud and actually left his gig there to take on a position with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which he held for nearly a decade.
And Iuzzini’s hustle didn’t stop there. Whilst he was worked to make a name for himself, he spent countless hours working. He got a job at Sound Factory and then would head to Tunnel for an 11 p.m. shift.
In 2015, it was announced that Iuzzini would open 20 Degrees American Chocolate and Coffee Roasters in the Catskills, where he grew up.
“I want to be able to be where I want to be in my life — which is up here — and to be in my little bubble with my team and be creative. This is not something I’m planning on developing and then flipping in a year or two. I plan on growing and growing and growing it,” he told Catskill Eats at the time.
A couple of fun facts about Iuzzini uncovered in that New York Magazine article include: He doesn’t like the taste of water, he doesn’t actually like food and “eats to survive,” and he has a very real sweet tooth, calling himself a “sugar freak.”
4. He Attended The Culinary Institute of America, Traveled to Europe Where He Worked as an Apprentice at Laduree in Paris & Recently Opened a Chocolate Factory
Iuzzini attended The Culinary Institute of America, located in Hyde Park, New York.
“Today, The Culinary Institute of America is widely recognized as the world’s premier culinary college, with an industry-wide reputation for excellence and more than 49,000 alumni serving their professions as living testament to the quality of a CIA education.”
Iuzzini was fortunate enough to travel the world when he was younger, landing a few apprenticeships in France. According to his website, he traveled to Europe in 1998 and worked in a few pâtisseries, “including the famed :adurée in paris under pastry chef Pierre Hermé.”
He has authored quite a couple of cookbooks including Dessert Fourplay: Sweet Quartets From A Four-Star Pastry Chef, and Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking.
This past May, Iuzzini launched his very own chocolate company. He now makes and sells “delicious hand-made, single origin, bean-to-bar chocolate bars,” according to his website.
“Johnny gets beans directly from farms in the world’s best chocolate-producing regions and does the complete chocolate making process himself. He does the sorting, roasting, winnowing, pre-refining, refining, conching, molding and packaging by hand which sets the bar high for the final product. It is Johnny’s passion to truly understand how each and every step is crucial to developing the highest quality chocolate bar.”
Additionally, Iuzzini owns his own pastry consulting company, appropriately named Sugar Fueled Inc.
5. He Is Dating Gia SanAngelo
Iuzzini is currently dating Gia SanAngelo. SanAngelo works as the general manager of Untitled NYC, a restaurant located at the Whitney Museum.
She has worked in the hospitality business since she was 16 years old. She worked as a hostess before bartending and expediting. When it came time to think about college, SanAngelo wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but she knew that she liked working in the restaurant business. She decided to apply to Florida Gulf Coast University, as the school has a good hospitality program.
In 2016, she told Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls that she landed an internship at a hotel in the area and was “sucked in from there.”