Jason Neroni may be many things: A mercurial firebrand, a talented chef done in by hubris, an alchemist capable of combining pork and margarita into a pork margarita. The aftermath of his very ugly divorce from Brooklyn's Porchetta has resulted in his former employer claiming that he's a thief and wanted by the police—and today Neroni told us that he'll be fighting fire with legal fire. How could a deal so sweet—Porchetta under Neroni had in general received positive reviews—go so sour? And why do we feel like we're 13 again, cowering our bedrooms while Mom and Dad blast NPR to drown out the fighting?
The Rise and Maybe Fall of Jason Neroni
October, 2006: Neroni, fresh from a sojourn in California, joins Brooklyn's Porchetta
December, 2006: A leaked email from Neroni appears on Grub Street wherein the man insults Danny Meyer and solicits votes for a Beard Award.
January, 2007: Bruni one-stars Porchetta in a tense review that both admires and decries Neroni's freewheeling creativity.
April 5, 2007: Neroni announces departure from Porchetta in email to Eater, citing "irreconcilable differences." Takes pastry chef and other kitchen staff.
April, 6, 2007: Eat for Victory publishes an interview with Neroni wherein he elaborates differences, "I don't agree with [owner Marco Rivero's] business practices." At this point, everything is seemingly civil.
April 10, 2007, early morning: Eater publishes a letter from Rivero claiming "Jason was fired for unauthorized misappropriation of funds from the business. A warrant is currently out for his arrest."
April 10, 2007, a little later: A call to the NYPD Warrant division turns up that there is no warrant out for Jason Neroni in any borough.
April 10, 2007, a few minutes ago: We talk to Neroni who confirms that he has hired a lawyer and is looking to take legal action against Rivero, presumably for defamation.
April 10, 2007, just now: Jason Neroni writes to us: "obviously i was shocked to come home from the time out awards last night to find out that not only was i not the best new chef in new york (congratulations mike anthony!), but i was also a wanted criminal. as of this morning, at least i can say that one of those statements is not true. after speaking with the police from several precincts and my lawyer, i can say that there is no warrant out for my arrest, nor is there any complaint currently filed against me by marco rivero. more importantly, i want to say that the accusations made against me by mr. rivero are ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. the pastry chef and i gave porchetta manager adam cain a one month notice of our intent to leave the restaurant on tuesday, april 3. on thursday, april 5, mr. rivero not so politely suggested that that day be my last because, in his words, i was 'talking shit.'"
Summation: Jason Neroni may be exuberant, overbearing, hard-to-work with, and a difficult man. In fact, he almost certainly is. But for now, it seems he hasn't run afoul of the long arm of the law. Maybe we'll see you all in court though!
* Note: This post was updated to reflect ongoing news; the headline was updated to reflect the fluctuating state of Mr. Neroni's legal plans. Or non-plans. Kinda hard to tell with him!