As unfavorable chatter surrounding the Fav Chef competition swirls, Allie Lyttle of Howell, the executive chef at LaLa’s in Ann Arbor, is withdrawing from the contest.
Lyttle, who has been in the top tier of competitors, is pulling out as information about the competition is unclear, other competitors are also pulling themselves out, and Favorite Chef refuses to comment.
According to the contest’s rules, contestants have a shot at winning the title of “the world’s Favorite Chef 2021” a prize of $50,000, and a “sponsored double-page spread” in the influential food publication Bon Appétit. Chefs with the highest number of “votes” get a higher position in their respective “group,” which raises their chances of advancing to the next round. There is one free daily vote per person unlocked by logging in to Facebook and entering a phone number, and an option of buying “Hero Votes”: “$1 equals one vote,” with the money raised benefiting Feeding America, according to the website.
The contest has been criticized on Facebook as a data mining scam. People have expressed concern that Feeding America will receive only 25% of what is donated. Bon Apétit tweeted a statement that the magazine’s editorial team doesn’t endorse the contest or the paid advertising feature.
“I don’t know that anything actually corrupt is happening, but there are enough things that have been mentioned with no comment from the hosts of the Favorite Chef,” Lyttle said. “I’m uncomfortable with the accusations and lack of clarity that they’re providing, and I have decided it’s best for me to remove myself from the competition.”
When she entered the competition, Lyttle said the cash prize of $50,000 would help keep LaLa’s and its staff going until after the pandemic. Today, she said that she is saddened that the Fav Chef competition “might be taking advantage of an industry that has been decimated by COVID-19.”
“To possibly be providing us all with false hope, false help, is just evil,” she said.
Voting in the contest ends March 4, 2021.