Hungry Detective to Calorie Commando:What the hell happened Juan?

Juan and I pose for a newspaper shot for my article about him vs me

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 Giada on her set circa 2005

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?

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3 thoughts on “Hungry Detective to Calorie Commando:What the hell happened Juan?

  1. I’m writing this to you as a human being, and as a co-worker. First off, I’m saddened by the news you heard about your friend Juan. That would be shocking to hear for anyone, let alone you when you were so close to him at one time and because of your job. I wanted to point something out to you…you wrote, “I’m still a cop, first and foremost.” I don’t believe that is true. First and foremost you are a man, a husband and father. That show’s in everything that you post. Let’s face it, men, husbands and fathers make mistakes…and sometimes horrible mistakes.

    I haven’t read any of the news articles or heard it on the news, I have only read what you wrote, but there is one thing I would like to mention…YOU are not the investigator on the case so in this situation, you are allowed to have compassion. It’s ok to be concerned for your friend Juan. It’s ok to want to know what the heck happened. It’s ok to still call him a friend. It’s ok to wonder why if he was having problems why he didn’t talk to you about it. People do stupid and bad things, but it doesn’t always mean they are a bad person. It doesn’t sound to me that you knew Juan to be a bad person at all. Sh*t happens in our lives. Society may not think that there is any reason that would condone the charges against Juan, but Juan might. Juan could also be thinking right now what a dumb ass he was, and he could be wishing that his friends, no matter what their profession, will do their best to not judge him, at least not until they know what the entire circumstances are…from both sides.

    Don’t write Juan off because of your profession as a cop. It also seems to me, you have more than one profession and Juan was a large part of your other profession, which I think (only based on facebook postings) is your favorite profession. If you are a true friend, you don’t just say, “I’m a cop so I can no longer be a friend”. Friends support each other during good and bad times. I’m thinking this is a bad time for Juan. Just my unasked for 2 cents…

  2. Holly your just wrong. You wouldn’t feel this way if he was trying to kill you. Bad things happen true, but this is a big line that was crossed. There is no excuse and no second chance. If convicted he needs to go away for a long time. There is evil in that man, evil that he can’t control. Chris I grew up with someone who murdered his girlfriend. A good guy I thought too. Now he’s in prison and I do t think of him anymore. The choice has been made.

  3. Dave, I wasn’t writing to you, but you have a right to your opinion, as I have a right to mine.

    As far as I know, no one knows the entire circumstances behind this situation. All I was saying was until Chris has heard both sides to the story, he doesn’t have to make any judgements. It’s ok for him to have mixed feelings about it and it’s ok for him to want some answers, no matter his profession.

    I haven’t forgotten there was a victim in all of this. I never said if Juan is tried and convicted that he doesn’t deserve to do time. But do I think everyone in his life should write him off if he is convicted? No, not at all. If I am wrong, so be it.

    It’s always easy to pass judgement BEFORE knowing the entire circumstances from every side.

    All I’m saying is Chris, the person who actually knows Juan, has a right to his feelings, no matter what he decides to do about his friendship with Juan. I’m sorry you are so close-minded about that.

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