Pete Evans: chef to Neo-Nazi enthusiast
He's been dropped by his publisher and TV show, but this is just the beginning for the unhinged chef
It’s been an interesting week for Pete Evans.
For those of you who don’t know him, he’s a celebrity chef in Australia. He used to be known for his chiselled abs, surfing prowess and cooking advice. But as the year has unravelled, so has Pete.
He’s no longer focussed on the ultimate paleo diet — he’s more about spreading the lie that COVID-19 isn’t real, or the lie that children are being harvested in an underground network of tunnels.
But after months of QAnon memes and blatant health misinformation (oh, and a recall of his products earlier this month) Pete decided stepped it up a notch — by posting a Neo-Nazi meme:
The evolved butterfly had a giant “Black Sun” or “Sonnenrad” on its wing, a symbol co-opted by Nazis and the Neo-Nazis that followed.
What the very lame meme is communicating is that being a Nazi is what “we’re supposed to do”.
Evans relishes the attention he gets from this sort of thing.
Like Billy TK Jnr over lockdown, chef Pete found he got more clicks and more likes posting about how COVID-19 is fake, as opposed to some boring old recipe.
Of course, the debate in the comments went on and on about what it all meant. While the answer was simple (Pete Evans is posting neo nazi content now), others wondered if he was being critical in some way. Or trying to make a point.
But any charitable reading of what Pete had posted (note: there isn’t one) was erased when he started engaging in the comments:
“You may wish to have another look about the true history of Germany”.
And here, chef Pete Evans made the transition into Holocaust denial.
This is not uncommon in the conspiracy space. It’s fulled with anti-Jewish sentiment. David Icke is another — openly campaigning for “alternative views” of the Holocaust be taught in schools, and spreading idea that those manipulating us all are Jews (sorry, “Reptilians”… most of who happen to be Jewish).
The wellness industry seems particularly susceptible to this kind of thinking. “Free thought” and “free speech” are championed above all else — so hey, what’s the problem with debating the fact that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust? It’s free thinking, man!
A good example of this was New Zealand wellness festival Luminate getting behind both David Icke and Pete Evans (I wrote about this here), listing them both as “seeds for positive change”. They are yet to properly apologise (I wrote about that here) and seem to be puzzled by the whole situation.
So… what did all this mean for Pete?
Well, one of his main jobs (when he’s not lying) is writing books. His publisher Pan Macmillan has come under pressure to drop Pete before — especially when he was encouraging people to stop wearing face masks. But they held on. He sells books, and he makes them money.
But this Nazi thing was a step too far. It was a bad look. I mean, if it’s one thing we should all know by now (hindsight and that) is that Nazis are bad.
So, yesterday — publisher Pan Macmillan dropped him.
Pete reacted by saying sorry to those who had “misinterpreted” his post.
I’ve cropped it, so what looks like a giant rainbow bum was actually a big heart. Let me be clear: There is no love in what Pete Evans is doing. And there is no “misinterpretation”.
Then today, his TV show dumped him:
“Network 10 can confirm that Pete Evans will not be appearing on this season of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!”
It appears this may be the end of the mainstream road for Pete Evans. It was sort of inevitable, but here we are.
But this is not the end for Pete.
It will signal a new beginning — one well trodden by the Alex Jones’ of this world. I was reminded of this over on Instagram, when I got this message from an Australian man who appeared to be in his 30s. Looking at his page, he seemed to be a sort of generic family man. Kids, a life, a nice time.
He slid into my DMs to call me “annoying” in response to me suggesting that Pete Evans should probably stop posting Nazi stuff.
He ended by calling my journalism “biased”. I would note that I am definitely biased against Nazi stuff.
So this isn’t the end of the road for Pete Evans. This is a fork.
What we are witnessing is Pete becoming a martyr for his ideas. He will shout loud and wide about “de-platforming” and “freedom of speech”, from a platform like Facebook — which delivers him an audience of 1.5 million people.
As Donald Trump schemes away about launching his own news service (seeing as Fox no longer has his back), Evans knows he has a willing audience for his bullshit — and he’ll weaponise that fact, and his fans.
I like to think that at some point we’ll all collectively agree that sharing pro-Nazi content isn’t great — but as suburban Dad proved to me, we’re still a long way from that.
And so get ready for the typical rallying cries of “free thought!” and “freedom of speech!” to justify this stuff.
To justify hate, misinformation and blatant lies. It’s what chef Pete thrives on. Because there’s an audience for it. And he knows it.