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Food Network pulls Superchef Grudge Match after its host’s arrest, not guilty plea (updated)

Food Network pulls Superchef Grudge Match after its host’s arrest, not guilty plea (updated)
Darnell Ferguson on the set of Superstar Grudge Match season 2 (Photo by Food Network)

Food Network has pulled Superchef Grudge Match from on-demand viewing after its host, Darnell Ferguson, was arrested Tuesday and pled not guilty to strangling and threatening the mother of three of his children.

Superchef Grudge Match is no longer on Max nor Discovery+, and is no longer streaming on Food Network’s web site.

Food Network has also removed new Tuesday-night episodes of Superchef Grudge Match from its schedule, replacing them with repeats Chopped. (That wasn’t the case earlier, when the show was removed from streaming but still on Food Network’s TV .)

Darnell’s Instagram account is now offline, too.

On Jan. 10, I asked Food Network about its plans and for comment, and have not yet received a reply; I will update if I do.

Darnell Ferguson posing with his hands clasped in front of him, and the metal judges table behind him with the words Super and Chef visible
Darnell Ferguson, host of Food Network’s Superchef Grudge Match (Photo by Rob Pryce/Food Network)

After a Tuesday arrest, Darnell pled not guilty on Wednesday and was released from jail, and is scheduled to make another court appearance Jan. 18.

He was charged with “felony burglary and strangulation, as well as misdemeanor assault, terroristic threatening, menacing, criminal mischief and theft,” The Louisville Courier Journal reported.

CBS affiliate WLKY reported that “Allegations in the court memo say he forced his way into her home, punched walls, strangled her to the point of unconsciousness, threatened to kill her, told her ‘she was his and no one else’s,’ then stole her credit cards and ID.”

In court Wednesday, Darnell’s attorney, “Krsna Tibbs, told the judge that the alleged victim and her attorney were in agreement with lowering the bond in part because they share three children and Ferguson is needed to help take care of them,” WDRB News reported. “Tibbs also told the judge the alleged victim has recanted the allegation that he had strangled her.”

His attorney told WDRB that the woman, who has not been named, “thinks they can work everything out and wants to drop the charges.”

However, Assistant Jefferson County Attorney Cristin Southard told WDRB, “They may think they want to reconcile but … these are very serious allegations, and we have concerns. Recantation, minimizing, those are all parts of the cycle of domestic violence.”

(If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, please call, text, or chat with the Domestic Violence Hotline.)

Jefferson District Court Judge Anne Delahanty offered to recuse herself, telling attorneys “that she watches Ferguson’s television show and had been to his restaurant many times,” WDRB reported.

Darnell Ferguson competes on Tournament of Champions 3. He made it to the semi-finals in season two, and beat Alex Guarnaschelli in season 1
Darnell Ferguson competes on Tournament of Champions 3. He made it to the semi-finals in season two, and beat Alex Guarnaschelli in season 1

Late Tuesday, the day Darnell was arrested, chef Nate Appleman posted an image to Instagram that reads “No More: Together we can end domestic violence & sexual assault,” and he captioned it, “Time to stand up. There is no place for this in the world. I am sick of this and I want to call on the Hospitality industry to lead the charge! Time to put and end to this.”

Chef Amanda Freitag reposted it to her Instagram story. Neither mention Darnell Ferguson, but Appleman and Freitag competed against each other on episode 8 of Superchef Grudge Match, which has not yet aired.

Darnell Ferguson has been a rising Food Network star since competing on Guy’s Grocery Games and Beat Bobby Flay, and then winning Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge in 2018.

He now he hosts his own prime-time show, something Food Network typically reserves for Guy Fieri or Bobby Flay.

Darnell has also competed on Tournament of Champions, and judged Guy’s Grocery Games, Chopped, and other shows.

Earlier in his career, after cooking with other student chefs during the Beijing Olympics, Darnell returned to Louisville and to selling drugs, and was arrested six times, according to an profile.

The profile also said that “[t]he last time he went to jail, where everyone who worked there knew him, he realized he had become ‘everything they told you not to become in elementary school.’ He reminded himself how good he was at cooking, resolved to ‘focus 100 percent’ when he got out and vowed he would never go to jail again.”

This story was updated Jan. 15, 2024, with details about the show’s removal from Food Network’s TV schedule, and the status of Darnell’s Instagram account.

Update, Jan. 19, 2024: Darnell appeared in court, via Zoom, on Thursday, where a detective shared some horrifying details, including that Darnell drove to his wife’s home (they’re divorcing) with his three kids in the car. She lost consciousness after he threatened to kill her and strangled her, WHAS11 reported.

In court, detective Mark Richardson also said, Darnell “ripped her shorts off that she had on, asked her to spread her legs, and then pointed to her genitalia and said, ‘That’s mine and no one else’s.'”

A grand jury will hear evidence on Feb. 19.

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Tuesday 6th of February 2024

This article hurts as a black African American Woman. I found out about this when my loc technician and I were looking for his show after watching Tournament of Champions, and I snooped him out to find out what happened to one of my favorite shows. I look at us, his parent's generation of Black Americans, and ask the question, what have we not done for our children that someone with his potential ( or not) gets caught up in violence and possibly mess up the lives of two adults and several children? How many young chocolate folks had scoped him out, watched him, and said I could be like Chef Ferguson and checked out his moves and story? This horror tale makes me sad, but we have to do something. We as a people cannot allow these scenarios to continue to snatch the breath from the next generation. His dream is most likely dead for becoming a world-renowned chef, whether innocent or guilty. I hate to see what route he takes. I pray for him and this young woman. Her story must change as well.

Chuck S.

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

I hope it's not true because I like Darnell.


Thursday 18th of January 2024

There was an article today with more information about what happened...and it's even worse than what was originally reported. It also seems that Ferguson's lawyer is lying about his victim recanting and wanting to drop the charges because the police say she has been cooperating with them.

Jeff Metzner

Sunday 14th of January 2024

As of today (maybe yesterday I forgot to check), my DVR says they're running a Chopped rerun in the slot that would have been a new Grudge Match.


Saturday 13th of January 2024

It’s off my Direct TV schedule