Chef-Spokesperson: Spike Mendelsohn Announces Restaurant Opening, Acid Reflux Diagnosis and Pharma Partnership

Posted by / Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Just in time for the debut of Spike Mendelsohn‘s second Good Stuff Eatery location in Crystal City on May 9th, the former Top Chef contestant revealed he suffers from acid reflux disease. With this news Mendelsohn also announced a new campaign, “Don’t Let It Burn,” in partnership with Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the makers of the heartburn medicine DEXILANT (dexlansoprazole), to raise awareness for the disease and to provide heartburn-friendly recipes. 

This is the second nationally-recognized chef this year to publicly announce a health-related problem while simultaneously becoming a spokesperson for prescription drug company. After hiding her Type 2 diabetes diagnosis for three years, Paula Deen, famous for her fatty recipes, came public with her news while also becoming the face of  the diabetes drug Victoza, from the Danish company Novo Nordisk. Deen received a lashing from the press over the timing of her announcement, especially because the “Queen of Butter” had been selling the public a brand of food known to lead to obesity, while she had been hiding her own diabetes.  

Endorsement deals are big money. And Big Pharma’s got some cash to spend on celebrities, especially now that the government is enforcing drug companies to disclose any gifts, payments or other swag pharmaceutical reps bestow upon doctors. Drug companies must find additional ways to promote pills. While celebrity prescription drug endorsements have been around for years, tapping into culinary heroes has become a trend. 

Chefs hawk pans, jams and plenty of other food-related paraphernalia. And now that chefs have become bold-face celebrities, they are the natural guides to tell people what to swallow. Spike flips burgers and spins shakes – why shouldn’t he also recommend more things we can ingest?

Wouldn’t the country be better served by eating better? Mendelsohn serves cholesterol-laden, life-shortening red meat for a living. Does repping for a drug company help more people than if Mendelsohn offered healthier food at his burger and pizza restaurants? I guess the questions is: What helps Mendelshon’s bank account. 

Photo: Fabio Berti/Shutterstock; additional reporting by Lorin Drinkard

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