There are chefs with tough reps. While inhabiting his TV persona, Gordon Ramsay slings more expletives and emotional abuse than he does actual food. And in Heat, Bill Buford wrote about the dark side of Ramsay mentor Marco Pierre White, known for having made the Kitchen Nightmare himself cry at one point.
Neither Ramsay nor White, however, likely has much on the new chef of Scotland’s Athena restaurant. Allan Dowell is a dude sufficiently tough to have done a prison bid. Big deal, you might say. Plenty of chefs have run-ins with the law; they party hard, they’re impulsive, and they’re constantly surrounded by booze, improvised weapons, and actual knives.
That said, Dowell not only did a prison bid, but he also participated in a prison riot. It gets better, in fact: Britain’s Sunday Mail writes, “Dowell has a history of violence dating back more than 30 years. He was 19 when he was jailed for 10 years for the attempted murder of Dr. Arthur White in a hammer attack in Edinburgh.”
It doesn’t end there: “In 1996 he was jailed for 12 years for an armed robbery at an Edinburgh brothel and was given a further five years for drugs offences in prison. In the 1987 Peterhead rootop [sic] riots, he was one of a dozen cons who wrapped a leash around the neck of hostage officer Jackie Stuart.”
A dining tip for those who visit Athena, via an “underworld source”: “Don’t even think about groping the belly dancer in Athena—the chef is very handy with a knife.”