Can Nigella Lawson's Career Survive a Drug Scandal?

The celebrity chef is defending herself in a lawsuit that claims she has a cocaine habit and abuses prescription drugs

Nigella Lawson's divorce from Charles Saatchi was finalized this summer, but is her ex-husband still conspiring to make her life miserable? As you may recall, the celebrity chef and the billionaire split up after the world saw photographs of him choking her while they sat in a restaurant. Saatchi has since claimed that he wasn't attacking Lawson, but was in fact removing cocaine from her nose, because she was a drug addict. And now, she's been forced to testify about her alleged drug use in court.

Two former personal assistants of the couple are on trial in London for allegedly stealing around $1 million dollars during their employment. The assistants claimed in court that they were allowed to spend money on themselves in exchange for keeping silent about Lawson's drug addiction.

A judge on ABC's The Taste, Lawson is furiously denying the story. In her own court testimony, the chef admitted to using cocaine and marijuana several times in her life, but says she was never a habitual user. Furthermore, she says, her ex-husband is perpetuating the story in order to get revenge on her -- because she didn't "clear his name" after the photographs of him abusing her hit the press.

"He said to me at the start that if I didn't go back to him and clear his name he would destroy me," Lawson said. "He started spreading false allegations of drug use. I have been put on trial here … and in the world's press."

Whatever the truth is about Lawson's drug use, it doesn't change the fact that her ex-husband is a manipulative person. Hopefully her career will survive the headlines about her past cocaine use, and she can move forward into a healthier relationship.

What is it about TV chefs that makes them so prone to scandals? Here are three other celebrity cooks who made negative headlines for reasons ranging from silly to shocking.

Paula Deen
Scandal: The popular Southern chef took a massive hit to her reputation in 2012, when a former employee sued her for making racist remarks and sexual innuendos. The butter didn't hit the fan until the case went to court in 2013. When asked, "Have you ever used the N-word?", Deen answered, "Yes, of course."
Did she recover? Undetermined. Deen lost her Food Network show and millions of dollars in corporate sponsorship deals; however, she still maintains a strong fan base, and continues to promote her brand outside of the Food Network.

Jeff Smith
Scandal: This is an awful one. The longtime host of The Frugal Gourmet on PBS was sued in 1997 by a group of seven men, all of whom claimed that Smith sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers. Smith denied the charges but settled for an undisclosed amount in 1998.
Did he recover? No. The plaintiffs' stories were shocking, and the seriousness of the accusations put an end to Smith's television career.

Guy Fieri
Scandal: In November 2012, a New York Times critic gave the Food Network star's Times Square eatery a review so scathing, it immediately went viral. Fieri went on TV to defend himself and accused the critic of having an "agenda."
Did he recover? Fully. If anything, the review made people more interested in Fieri's restaurant, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

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Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor. Find her on Twitter and Google+

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