More Kitchen Nightmares Uncovered: Suicidal Chef Had Cocaine Arrest

It turns out Joseph Cerniglia, the Kitchen Nightmares contestant who committed suicide, had a rap sheet

By Josh Grossberg Sep 30, 2010 7:45 PMTags
Hells Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay, Joseph CernigliaFox

Days after his suicide, details are starting to emerge about the dark side of former Kitchen Nightmares chef Joseph A. Cerniglia.

E! News has learned that the 39-year-old restaurateur, who appeared on hot-tempered chef Gordon Ramsay's Fox reality series in 2007 and leaped to his death from New York's George Washington Bridge last week, had previously been hospitalized this summer after overdosing on cocaine.

MORE: Does Top Chef's Eric Ripert think Ramsay's to blame?

Per the Record of Hackensack, officers responded to a 911 call on July 15 about a medical emergency involving a 38-year-old male who had snorted coke. They found Cerniglia sweating and shaking profusely and in need of medical assistance. He was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where he was treated and released. According to the Fair Lawn Police Department's online arrest book, a man matching Cerniglia's decription was charged with being under the influence of narcotics.

That case appeared to be pending at the time of his death. Bergen County prosecutors did not immediately respond to comment.

Meanwhile, Jessica Marotta, Cerniglia's fellow Kitchen Nightmares participant and coworker, who became his mistress, is "devastated" by his suicide, Marotta's mother told the New York Post.

It's unclear whether Cerniglia became involved with the pastry chef before or after he separated from his wife, Melissa. But his restaurant, Campanila, had issues long before his involvement with Ramsay, and the chef was in serious debt.

A memorial service for Cerniglia was held Wednesday afternoon in Wayne, N.J., not far from the cook's residence.