Elliot, who appeared on MasterChef and MasterChef Jr. for a decade before becoming a judge on Top Chef in 2016, was sued in 2012 by 14 former servers at his Chicago restaurant, the aptly named Graham Elliot. The employees alleged that they were owed money due to unlawful tip pooling and said that Elliot was operating a "systemic scheme to deprive them of regular and overtime compensation."
The employees were seeking back pay plus interest; the case was settled in the fall of 2012 with Elliot paying an undisclosed sum to his former employees. The scandal doesn't seem to have hurt his reputation, and now he's a judge on Top Chef who helps advise others on their own careers managing restaurants.
Basically what happened was this: Cheftestant Ed Cotton made a pea puree to go along with the seafood dish he was cooking. Then, somewhere between the prep kitchen and the restaurant kitchen where they'd be preparing their meals for the challenge, Cotton's puree went missing. At the same time, chef Alex Reznik suddenly had a pea puree that he was going to feature in his dish, even though he had been shown on camera pondering what he would serve with his salmon. The coincidence seemed almost too convenient, especially when Cotton was forced to change his dish (peas that were not received well), and Reznik ended up winning the week's challenge.
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