Have you ever had one of those “holy sh*t moments when you are watching the news? Well I had one of those yesterday, big time! I was sitting down after a very long day at my real job of being a Police Officer here in the Los Angeles area and decided to turn on the news. I was watching the usual evening news events when a photo of a disheveled man in an orange shirt came on the screen with the headline “Murder for Hire Plot Foiled”. I took another sip of my drink and then realized who the man in the news photo was, it was Juan Carlos Cruz, my friend and fellow former Food Network TV host! I could not believe my eyes, damn I wish I had been paying attention to the news story so I ran to the computer and punched up the news web site and sure enough , it was Juan. Wait a minute, Juan was a “good guy” he is not supposed to be involved in “murder for hire” plots! I had to fight the temptation of making phone calls to investigators I know to find out what deal was as I am still a “cop” first and foremost and didn’t want to mess anything up in the investigation.
I sat and thought about Juan and the history I have with him. Juan was my first “big” interview when I was writing for the Daily Breeze newspaper before I was on the Food Network. I remember that I had admired Juan for his focus and tenacity in overcoming his own “battle of the bulge” and going from a fat pastry chef to a thin celebrity chef. I became friends with Juan and my wife was even on his Calorie Commando show and she still makes his low fat onion dip to this day .
Juan and I had some cool adventures like when he called me up one day and said “Hey lets go watch Giada film her show”. Wow, what a cool guy I thought to invite a peon like me to see one of Food Networks biggest stars film her show. We went and hung around her set while she cooked, we got to eat her food (tasty Arrancini balls) and I got to see how the process of filming a Food Network show actually worked. When I had a charity event or something like that, Juan would commit to help. I remember when Food Network canceled his show at around the same time I was starting to get my Hungry Detective show going. He was pretty bummed and I felt really bad for him as he soon realized that making Food TV can be a hurtful business (as I would learn a few years later). I kept in touch with Juan and he really seamed to be doing well, focusing on his Cookbooks and doing Krav Magra for fitness. I admired his ability to keep going and to persevere, he was always such a positive guy with a big heart! I got invited to the premier of Ratatouille to do the whole “food celebrity” thing. I walked onto the red carpet to do the press line and who was next to me, my buddy the Calorie Commando! We had a blast, laughed and after the movie we got to meet “real celebrities” and drink tons of wine.
I always wanted to do a show with my friend Juan, I thought the whole Hungry Detective/Calorie Commando thing went well together. I have always hated being a fat guy and really really admired Juan for what he has done, in fact I created a show treatment called “fat to fit” where Juan would force me to get thin be eating right and exercising, which would have pretty much been impossible for him to do as I am stubborn as a horse! I guess now that it will never be, since I don’t think he will be getting any shows “green lit” by network execs anytime soon.
I have not seen Juan in a bit over a year, but kept in contact with him via Facebook and was excited for the release of his new book. I don’t know what was going on in his life prior to last night, things could have gotten really ugly (well I guess they did). I do know that as a cop, as an investigator I would not arrest a person on a murder for hire charge unless I had a damn good case against him. I know that the investigators at Santa Monica PD are very competent and for Juan, that’s not a good thing. I am torn between wanting to support my friend, but being a cop (knowing what I know about the way things work in the world of good guys and bad guys) cutting all ties with him. Seeing him last night on the news, was a picture of a very sad ending to the career of a very nice guy who I called a friend.
Juan: What the hell happened?