Popular chef and food writer Alison Roman is now jobless after comments she made about media personality Chrissy Teigen and lifestyle guru Marie Kondo made her the target of the social media outrage mob.
Roman, 34, had been writing for the New York Times food section for a few years but had risen to internet stardom during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic sharing videos and live feeds of her making delicious dishes for the virtual masses. At the height of her newfound success and enhanced visibility, one magazine interview asked where she might go next in her exciting career. That's when things went terribly wrong.
For Roman, who had a successful career as a pastry chef before becoming a senior food editor at Bon Appetit magazine and ultimately joining the NYT, a career marked by lines of cookware at Target and glitzy, sponsored blogs wasn't what she saw for herself. Chrissy Teigen, a former model turned best selling cookbook author, social media influencer, and popular woke scold, exemplified those things that Roman did not want for her own future.
"What Chrissy Teigen has done is so crazy to me,” Roman said to the New Consumer in an interview earlier this month. “She had a successful cookbook. And then it was like: Boom, line at Target. Boom, now she has an Instagram page that has over a million followers where it’s just, like, people running a content farm for her. That horrifies me and it’s not something that I ever want to do. I don’t aspire to that."
The interview, which was dedicated to outlining what Roman wanted for her own career, went on to reveal that the food writer was also interested in short stories and other non-fiction. She whimsically mused about her future, saying she just wanted to be apart from the mainstream of popular food personalities.
"To me, the only way that I can continue to differentiate myself from the pod of people that write recipes, or cookbooks or whatever, is by doing a different thing," Roman said. "And so I have to figure out what that is. And I think that I haven’t ultimately nailed that. And I’m in the process of figuring it out right now."
She also noted that Marie Kondo, an author who achieved international success by instructing people to declutter and simplify their lives, made a financial killing by marketing products with her name on them.
"The idea that when Marie Kondo decided to capitalize on her fame and make stuff that you can buy, that is completely antithetical to everything she’s ever taught you," Roman said. "Someone’s like 'you should make stuff,' and she’s like, 'okay, slap my name on it, I don’t give a s---!'”
Though the interview was dedicated to Roman talking about what she wanted for her own life, her choice to use Teigen and Kondo as career examples of what she felt wasn't right for her became headline news. Teigen, who currently has just under 13 million followers on Twitter, took the comparison quite personally, and shared with the internet masses just how hurt her feelings were at having been mentioned in that way.
"[T]his is a huge bummer and hit me hard," Teigen said on Twitter after Roman's interview was published. "I have made her recipes for years now, bought the cookbooks, supported her on social and praised her in interviews. I even signed on to executive produce the very show she talks about doing in this article.” She later tweeted, “Anyhow. now that that’s out there, I guess we should probably unfollow each other @alisoneroman."
The outrage mob was swift and fierce. The adored Chrissy Teigen, who is consistently covered in the media for emotional outbursts she shares on Twitter, was protected by swarms of dedicated and incensed fans from around the world. Roman, and her humble dreams of being a modestly successful food writer, were being burned beyond recognition as people even accused Roman of racism because both Teigen and Kondo have Asian heritage.
Now, Roman has confirmed that she is on indefinite leave from her job at the New York Times. Her announcement on Tuesday via Instagram coincided with the public shaming and firing of "Central Park Karen," who was also ousted from her job because of the internet mob of snap judgement. Though Roman apologized to Teigen profusely and publicly, the damage had been done. Now stained by the Chrissy Teigen worshipping mob as a racist beneficiary of toxic white privilege, Roman felt she had to concede to her alleged thought crime and retreat from the public eye.
"This was a huge shake-up for me both personally and professionally, and I’m still processing so much, but know that I’m working on it and thinking about it 24/7,” she said on Tuesday, confirming her leave from the NYT. “The issues brought to light by this whole thing won’t be fixed overnight, and the healing process for many will be long, but I’m committed to doing the work to make it better."
Roman says she will now focus on her blog and sharing recipes through a newsletter. But don't expect to be able to leave any comments or further accusations of bigotry; if she learned only one thing from this disaster it was to disable the comment section. The New York Times, silent through most of the ordeal, offered no defense of their writer as she was unjustly dismantled by a swarm of Chrissy Teigen sycophants.
Seeing what had happened, even Teigen called on the NYT to reinstate Roman's column but so far, no indication of a return date has been given.