Chefs killing people are the stuff good Hollywood whodunits are made of — or at least as a misdirection to disguise the real killer until the show’s end. But The Food Network’s Juan-Carlos Cruz may have actually gotten himself involved in a real murder scheme. Chef Juan-Carlos Cruz, former host of “Calorie Commando,” was arrested in Santa Monica Thursday for allegedly soliciting a few homeless people to commit a murder.
According to Radar Online, Juan-Carlos Cruz didn’t just go to one homeless person, but several, looking to find someone who would work as a hit man for him. And according to the celebrity gossip website, more than one of the homeless individuals he approached went to the police through the Santa Monica Police Department’s Homeless Liaison Program.
Santa Monica Police then set up a sting operation, whereupon Juan-Carlos Cruz was arrested. Police were able to learn who the intended target would be and how, where, and when the victim was to be killed. Cruz was booked on suspicion of solicitation to commit murder. He is being held on $5 million bail.
Police are crediting their strong ties with the Santa Monica homeless community for the arrest. “We are very fortunate we have a relationship … with the homeless and that they were able to give us information,” Sgt. Jay Trisler told KTLA television in Los Angeles.
Thus far, police have not released the name of the victim, although they have been notified of the plot. In the whodunits, it’s always a competing chef or an unfortunate spouse, but reality (and those who work in reality television) often doesn’t work along the same lines a mystery storyline. Police told the Los Angeles Times that Juan-Carlos Cruz knew the victim but were yet unclear as to the relationship between Cruz and his target or what the motive might be.
A graduate of the California Culinary Academy in 1993, Juan-Carlos Cruz worked for the Stanford Park Hotel and the Hotel Bel Air. At the latter, he created pastries for celebrities as the pastry sous-chef. Cruz lost 43 pounds on a Discovery Health channel show somewhat like NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” called “Health Body Challenge,” which inspired him to to switch his cooking focus from pastries to low-calorie cuisine.
Cruz is the author of two cookbooks, The Juan-Carlos Cruz Countdown Cookbook: A 5-Week Eating Strategy for Sustainable Weight Loss and the as yet unreleased (set for June 1) The Love Diet: With Simple Recipes (Cocktails, Too) For A Healthy, Happy, Sexy You, which he co-authored with Amy Reiley.
Cruz also operates a website, PastryDude.com, which is currently listed as “Under Construction.”
It is unclear as yet what prompted Juan-Carlos Cruz to feel the need to allegedly hire someone to commit a murder on his behalf.
Cruz will make his first appearance in court on Monday, May 17.