As far as celebrity chef lawsuits go, this one may have Paula Deen's beat. A Thai restaurant in South Beach is suing its former executive chef, known to fans as Chef Bee (real name Piyarat Potha Arreeratn), claiming that when he was hired, he agreed to close his family-owned restaurant—but instead he quit in quite dramatic fashion and returned to that eatery, stealing, the lawsuit claims, recipes, concepts, employees, and publicity photos. Arreeratn, for his part, says (through his lawyer) that the lawsuit basically assumes Thai cuisine "was invented on South Beach in the fall of 2012" when Khong River House opened, and that the restaurant is attempting to subject him to "a Vulcan mind-wipe to obliterate 20 years of cooking experience."
Chef Bee, the lawsuit from parent company 50 Eggs Restaurant Company claims, begged for the top job at Khong, and its promotional campaign was built around him. It met with much success upon opening, but shortly before the opening, Chef Bee allegedly disappeared and then, when found, was "panicking" and refused to go into the kitchen: "He stated he would get sick and break out into hives if he had to cook," the lawsuit says, according to the Miami Herald. Executives ultimately reduced his duties to simply promotional ones, but last month, he quit and returned to family-owned restaurant Oishi Thai—and, the lawsuit claims, started featuring the meals and photos he'd stolen. It was all part of "a premeditated plan" to steal those ideas, the lawsuit says. The Miami New Times has more, and notes that the "steamy" suit "reads like an epic novel." (Read more celebrity chef stories.)