Lawsuit says Food Network stole recipe for 'Private Chefs'

Private-chefs-of-beverly-hills EXCLUSIVE: The Food Network has been served a hot steaming lawsuit over its show "Private Chefs of Beverly Hills" from an outfit that bills itself as the leading private chef placement company in the world.

Private Chefs Inc. claims it owns the trademark over its name and tried to pitch the Food Network on its own show called "Celebrity Dish," which would have featured chefs who worked with celebrities explain recipes and food preparation, often alongside the celebrities for whom they cooked.

The plaintiff believes it is owed money for "Private Chefs of Beverly Hills," a docu-soap following chefs from a private chef placement company preparing lavish parties for exclusive clientele.

The Private Chefs case is the latest example a legal trend: dressing up idea theft claims as breaches of contract. (Here's why.) But this latest one has a little twist.

According to the complaint, the pitch happened all the way back in 2002. Back then, the plaintiff's president, Christian Paier, allegedly met with reps at the Food Network in New York and told them his idea. Food Network is said to have declined.

Now, eight years later, Food Network is claimed to have stolen the recipe for the show.

Would an implied contract survive that long?

"There is no time bar given the recent broadcasts," says Jonathan Levitan, the attorney representing the plaintiffs. "Interesting point is that chef shows have exploded in the last 10 years, so this one may have well been pulled off the shelf and dusted down."

We reached out to Food Network to find out how many executives at the company from 2002 still work there today and whether they keep records of eight-year-old pitches. We'll update if we hear anything.

Here's the complaint.

Private Chefs Inc. is claiming trademark infringement, unfair competition, breach of oral contract and breach of implied in fact contract. The plaintiff wants an injunction against further use of the "Private Chefs" mark, proper credit for the show, profits from the show and further damages.