Celebrity chef Pete Evans has completed the journey from beloved TV personality to full time conspiracist.
The former My Kitchen Rules judge was dumped from Channel 10's upcoming series of I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here on Tuesday, after he shared a neo Nazi symbol on Instagram.
The self-styled social media provocateur claimed in posts he had "no idea" he was sharing Nazi symbolism, but comments from his post appear to show him engaging with commenters, saying he was "waiting for someone to see" the symbol.
Evans' latest Instagram post addresses the controversy and accuses the "mainstream media" of calling him racist and a neo-Nazi.
"The fact that I had to Google what a neo-Nazi is is pretty telling," he says in the post. "It is completely untrue, unfactual and a load of garbage."
The downfall of Evans is a long and sad tale, that is hard to make sense of.
Evans, once praised by Oprah as being behind the "world's best pizza" and judge of one of Australia's most successful reality TV brands, has made a confusing leap to a fringe radical, resulting in him being dumped by all his major commercial partners. So how did it happen?
Evans rose to fame as a successful restaurateur in the mid 1990s – he opened restaurants around Sydney with his brother, including Hugos at Bondi, and the mega pizza bar and nightclub Hugos in Kings Cross. The 680 capacity venue was attended by celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Lara Bingle.
In 2011, Oprah visited the venue on her trip to Australia, saying on her website that Evan's had won the title of making the "World's Best Pizza".
At the same time, in 2010, Evans joined Manu Feildel as the hosts of Australia's reality cooking show My Kitchen Rules (MKR). The show was wildly successful, winning the 2014 Logie for Most Popular Reality Programme.
The programme ranked either the second or first most popular show in its timeslot throughout its run.
Evans left the Hugos business in 2012 after a "bitter feud" with his business partner and brother Dave Evans, News Corp reported at the time.
"For the past five years, Pete has had less and less to do with the business as he spends 10 months a year working full time on MKR and his other television and book commitments," a Hugos Group spokeswoman said at the time.
Evans had recently split from his former long term partner Astrid Edlinger and started dating his now wife Nicola Robinson.
At the time, Edlinger said fame had changed her former partner.
"He's got more famous and it inevitably changes anyone," she said.
In 2015, Hugos was closed after significant licensing crack downs were made in the Kings Cross precinct following concern over alcohol-fuelled violence. The venue had been trading for 15 years before the closure.
From 2014, Evans began releasing a series of Paleo cookbooks, including The Paleo Chef: Quick (2014), Flavourful Paleo Meals for Eating Well (2014), Family Food (2015), and The Complete Gut Health Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know About the Gut and How to Improve Yours (2016), to name a few.
The pivot was massive for Evans, who just a few years earlier had published numerous cookbooks solely about pizza. In 2016, he told Body+Soul he was tired of listening to scientists educate us about diet.
"Research has shown these (hunter gatherer) societies don't tend to suffer from the modern chronic diseases that plague the developed world, and for me that's powerful information that's worth investigating," he said.
As Evans became more well known for his controversial views on diet, his appearances on MKR increasingly drew confusion from fans. They were baffled by his hard line stance on diet, while he nibbled on burgers and scones as a judge on the program.
"Yes, I swallow, you'd better believe it," he told news.com.au in 2015, adding that the food he ate on MKR only made up about 1 per cent of his yearly diet.
MKR's ratings took a dive during the final two series. The final season of MKR, in 2020, was ranking in 17th place, after launching the series against the Australian Open.
"My Kitchen Rules is dead," TV commentator Rob McKnight told news.com.au in February of this year, speculating the program would never return to the air.
THE SLOW DECLINE: EVANS TURNS ON THE MEDICAL INDUSTRY
In 2015, Evans released promotional material for his book, Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way For New Mums, Babies Toddlers, calling it "a treasure trove of nutritional information and nourishing Paleo recipes". The release included a bone broth for babies, which included ingredients like oils, a probiotic supplement and chicken livers.
Professor Heather Yeatman from the Public Health Association of Australia said at the time "there's a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead".
The book was delayed from publications, but was still published online. In 2020, Evans claimed the delay only happened because his publisher, Pan MacMillan Australia, had "got nervous".
"This recipe has been in print, in publication, for over 20 years, in America," he claimed, adding there was "no recorded case of harm from that one recipe".
In 2016, Evans advised a woman with osteoporosis to stop consuming dairy during a Facebook Q&A. He told her "doctors don't know the truth" about the mineral calcium and urged her to eat the Paleo way, which includes removing dairy, grains and legumes from your diet.
In the same year, Evans took aim at sunscreen, saying he generally uses "nothing" to protect himself from the sun.
"The silly thing is people put on normal chemical sunscreen then lay out in the sun for hours on end and think that they are safe because they have covered themselves in poisonous chemicals which is a recipe for disaster as we are witnessing these days," he said.
The comments drew the ire of Terry Slevin, The Cancer Council's director of education, who said sunscreen probably reduces the risk of skin cancer.
"The science is clear, increased exposure to UV radiation equals an increased risk of skin cancer and this is from people who have been researching this for decades," Mr Slevin said at the time.
"The question is who should people take their advice from on sun protection? Mr Evans is not someone I would call on for that advice. It's yet another case of someone (in this case with a media profile) undermining the safety and efficacy of sunscreen."
By 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Evans had firmly isolated himself from the good graces of the medical community.
Throughout the pandemic, Evans struggled to come to grips with what his messaging over the coronavirus was.
In April, Evans shared a video on Instagram of a BioCharger NG light machine he was selling through his website for $15,000. He claimed to be using the light machine for therapeutic reasons, and suggested it could assist in treating COVID-19.
"It's programmed with a thousand different recipes and there's a couple in there for the Wuhan coronavirus," Evans said.
Evans was investigated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) over the post, who fined him $25,000.
A few weeks after being fined by the TGA, Evans and Channel 7 formally parted ways. Reports claim "the separation was an amicable decision" and Evans now planned to focus on his "alternative lifestyle" empire. Evans at the time had been appearing on lifestyle program Better Homes and Gardens after wrapping up filming on MKR.
Pivoting away from his now illegal light therapy machine, Evans at other times this year has appeared to suggest the coronavirus is not real.
"I am sceptical, and I also am suspicious," Evans, told 60 Minutes during a bizarre interview this year. "I could I could very easily disappear … If I disappear in a weird freakin' accident, it wasn't an accident, OK?"
The exclusive interview was granted to Channel 9 by the conspiracist under the agreement that he be allowed to film it himself. Evans then proceeded to scoop the program by leaking large segments of the interview on his own social media before their broadcast.
Before this, Evans began posting about widespread protests and riots in the US following the death of George Floyd.
"Do not mistake rioters with protesters, there is plenty of evidence showing you that the riots were instigated by organisations affiliated with the elite," Evans said
"It is no accident that videos of police brutality have suddenly gone viral, I hope you see the pattern."
This week, Evans shared a disturbing cartoon appearing to show his sympathy for Nazism and white supremacy.
The cartoon, of a caterpillar in a Trump hat, and a black butterfly with a black sun – an image popularised by Nazi Heinrich Himmler, and now widely used by neo Nazi and far right nationalist groups, including by the Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant.
Evans has since been abandoned by his publisher Pan Macmillan Australia who announced their "finalising" their relationship with the former celebrity chef. The publisher said it "does not support the recent posts made by Pete Evans".
"Those views are not our views as a company or the views of our staff. Pan Macmillan is currently finalising its contractual relationship with Pete Evans and as such will not be entering any further publishing agreements moving forward," the statement read.
"If any retailer wishes to return Pete Evans' books please contact Pan Macmillan."
Dymocks Australia also announced it would be "removing his books from our website and have advised our stores to return their stock as offered by the publisher".
Evans has since deleted the post, saying he's sorry to anyone who perceived he was "promoting hatred".
"Sincere apologies to anyone who misinterpreted a previous post of a caterpillar and a butterfly having a chat over a drink and perceived that I was promoting hatred," he wrote.
"I look forward to studying all of the symbols that have ever existed and research them thoroughly before posting."