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_ Celebrity chef and Bad Vegan star's ex  Matthew Kenney, 59, is accused of sending vile texts to employees and having relationship with 19-year-old while living in a $20k-a-month apartment as his restaurant went down the drain

_ Celebrity chef and Bad Vegan star's ex  Matthew Kenney, 59, is accused of sending vile texts to employees and having relationship with 19-year-old while living in a $20k-a-month apartment as his restaurant went down the drain

Celebrity vegan chef Matthew Kenney sent vile racist and misogynist messages to his employees, failed to pay their wages, and misled investors as his restaurant empire crumbled, a new report has alleged. 

The New York Times paints a picture of deceit, unpaid bills and inappropriate relationships surrounding Kenney, the ex of disgraced New York restaurateur Sarma Melngailis featured in Netflix's 'Bad Vegan'.

Seventeen of Kenney's restaurants have shuttered since 2021 with 60 former employees, investors and business associates coming forward to tell the Times about a pattern of 'chaotic and reckless management' by Kenney. 

Kenney allegedly failed to pay vulnerable employees for months while he lived a 'very glamorous life' in a $20,000 a month Los Angeles home. 

He allegedly dated a 19-year-old employee, asked staff to lie to his girlfriend when he brought her to the restaurant and sent racist messages asking if his lawyer was black and saying 'I'll kill you if she is.' 

Kenney is worth an estimated $20million. He runs dozens of restaurants across five continents, serving stars like Alec Baldwin, Miley Cyrus, and Woody Harrelson. 

But the former golden boy of veganism has suffered a fall from grace with a series of reports and documentaries calling into question his business practices. 

In the latest report, the Times interviewed 60 of Kenney's associates and reviewed court cases and text messages sent by the restauranteur over the course of decades.

In one of the most serious allegations, The NYTimes said: 'Mr. Kenney regularly referred to employees and business associates in racist, misogynistic and profane terms'.

They said in one set of messages relating to a harassment case against him, Kenney asked if his lawyer was black and then said: 'If she is I'll kill you'.

He allegedly went on to suggest that the lawyer was performing sex acts on the plaintiff and mocked the plaintiff's stutter.

In another text from 2022, he allegedly wrote, 'All Latin men are crybabies,' and then said 'Hate to be racist but it's my experience.'

Four years earlier he allegedly described South Asian business owners as 'grocery store Indians'.

Then in 2021, he allegedly asked about the sex life of a female employee of color and went on a tirade about the personal hygiene of his previous sexual partners, saying one woman was attractive 'until she turned 21.'

Meanwhile, he reportedly carried out a sexual relationship with decades-younger staff members at his restaurants, including one relationship with a 19-year-old hostess when he was in his mid-50s. 

Staff told The Times that they were told by managers to lie to Kenney's then-girlfriend, Charlotte MacKinnon, about Kenney bringing other women to the restaurant. 

Former server Yvette De Vito told the paper: 'People were caught in middle of weird stuff like that. I got the impression that this person had no moral code or compass and only cares about himself.'

All the while, employees said they weren't being paid and were forced to race each other to the bank on payday as only the first ones to get there would get paid.  

One former manager, Kari Bare, said workers 'would all fight to go to the bank to see who would get paid first. It was just really sad.' One employee was forced to live on canned beans because of unpaid salary and tips, she said. 

All the while Bare said she would see Kenney and MacKinnon on luxury trips on Instagram, and he was living in a $20,000 a month luxury home in Los Angeles.

A pending class-action lawsuit filed in 2021 by former employees at the U.S. District Court in New York alleged that pay practices at Kenney's New York City restaurants violated federal and state labor laws. 

The suit claimed in part that Mr. Kenney, his partners and companies unlawfully kept workers' tips. 

Arguments over pay made the situation unworkable. One former general manager, Kara Knowles, told The Times: 'I had a dishwasher call and threaten to kill me once. That's how high tensions were.'

As well as failing to pay employees, Kenney also failed to pay landlords, the report alleges. 

A local partner in Plant Pub Fenway, Pat McAuley said Mr. Kenney's company owned the business and controlled its finances until it was evicted by its landlord, who claimed about $230,000 in unpaid rent.

McAuley told the paper that the restaurant made hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in the 12 weeks it was open, adding: 'We don't know what happened to it. They didn't pay vendors other than the very bare minimum.'

The claims are markedly similar to those surrounding his former girlfriend, Melngailis, now 44, who served four months in a cell on Riker's Island and was released in October 2017 for fleecing her and Kenney's old restaurant.

The two co-founded Pure Food and Wine in 2004, and after the broke up a few years later, she took control of the company and its $2 million debt.

She proceeded to plead guilty to various fraud charges in 2017 after swindling the same sum from investors while also stiffing employees out of their hard-earned checks, before going on the run.

Her bizarre downfall was showcased in full in 'Bad Vegan' – as the former restaurateur maintains she used funds from the show to pay back her employees.  

His struggles have not kept him from starting new ventures opening a Double Zero location in Times Square last month.

Kenney denies the claims, telling The Times that their reporting is 'despicable' and lacks 'a basic understanding of actual facts'. DailyMail.com tried to contact Kenney for further comment. 

Former investor and wife of actor Michael Landon, Cindy, told the Times that she had spoken with other former business partners and employees, she said: 'They all tell me these stories and they tell me this man needs to be stopped.'


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