This pastrami is starting an internet beef.
Seedy celebrity chef Brad Leone – who hosts a series of cooking videos titled It’s Alive with Bon Appetit – gets some serious foodie flak with his latest tutorial Brad Makes Pastrami. In the video, posted to YouTube on April 4, the bearded, beanie-wearing brother gets a little too creative when it comes to his approach to food, critics say.
After Leone trims a 10-pound breastplate, Leone introduces “a little experiment.”
“The next step is the corning of our breast, the corning of our beef. Traditionally it is made with a pink pickling salt. I’ll walk away from it,” he says in the segment. “We’re going to use some celery and some sauerkraut juice along with some traditional spices.”
YouTube commentators were quick to chide him and the dubious technique. “I love Brad his prescriptions give botulism free 24/7,” commented one viewer.
“This is honestly not a safe way to make pastrami,” wrote another. “It is disappointing that BA continues to allow Brad to post unsafe food practices in videos.”
Food media quickly piled up, with the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that Leone’s actions were “extremely dangerous” and “a botulism party.” Gawker chimed in with her own scathing take: “Bon Appetit wants to give you botulism.” This isn’t Leone’s first clash with controversy — last year Bon Appetit removed his tutorial on canning seafood after experts pointed out that his unconventional approach could potentially poison home cooks. Leone later apologized on Instagram.
But so far he hasn’t given in to his pastrami cues.
On Leone’s Instagram, where he has more than 850,000 followers, a user shared that she became ill from Leone’s prescription. “I made the brisket recipe exactly as you described and now I have absolutely horrible diarrhea — I mean mind-blowing diarrhea,” she wrote. “Did this happen to you after you ate it, thanks.”
The chef was quick to defend his wild ways, responding to the loaded question, “I’ve never been sick from any of my ferments or cooking experiments.”
“I’m not sure where you live, but I’ve got a crazy stomach bug going around,” he continued. “I’m sorry to hear about your severe diarrhea. Drink enough.”
But experts refuse to meat Leone halfway.
Responding to Leone’s dry response, food influencer Joe Rosenthal said, “It’s worth noting that playing Russian roulette for a few rounds doesn’t mean the gun isn’t loaded: it means you’re lucky and shouldn’t be playing Russian roulette or more.” It’s important that you tell your massive audience to do it,” he wrote. rose valley posted a screenshot this criticism on Twitter after finding out that Leone had “restricted” his account on Instagram and automatically hid his comments. He also posted not one, but two separate Instagram highlights, in which he analyzed the dangers of Leone’s pastrami instructional video and addressed the chef directly.
In the San Francisco Chronicle article, culinary scientist Ali Bouzari agreed that using celery juice instead of salt to cure pastrami is very risky.
“Just as every peach varies in sugar content or every lemon in acidity, every stalk of celery is susceptible to different nitrate loads depending on how it was grown,” Bouzari told the outlet. While this could theoretically work, he suggests, it’s not worth taking the risk that some bacteria – particularly strains that cause foodborne illness, including botulism, which is highly toxic – might survive.
The stern warning was echoed by San Francisco chef Adam Rosenblum, known for his decadent pastrami dishes.
“I’ve heard horror stories of someone using the wrong nitrite and too much of it and people getting sick,” he told the Chronicle.
As Leone’s commenters have pointed out, the risks of eating improperly cured meat range from gastrointestinal distress to the rare but serious condition of botulism, which can cause muscle paralysis — and worse.
“Under certain conditions, these spores can grow and produce one of the deadliest toxins known,” reports the CDC.
Condé Nast, Bon Appetit’s parent company, did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.
While the backlash has yet to remove Leone’s pastrami video, a new disclaimer has been added on YouTube.
“While we all enjoy the discoveries that come with Brad’s unique experiments in the kitchen, if you’re inspired to create your own version at home, be sure to follow a proven recipe to ensure your preparations meet food safety standards.”