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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020
image via eater

Lawyers for celebrity chef Adam Perry Lang, who once served as Epstein’s personal chef, confirmed to The Daily Beast that he is cooperating with the investigation.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre clutched the letter as she traversed a California highway overlooking the Pacific Ocean. That February morning, she was en route to a Manhattan Beach home she hoped belonged to a celebrity chef she once knew.

A survivor of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex ring, Giuffre was on a cross-country mission to doorknock the financier’s former employees after his death. She hoped these acquaintances could be witnesses now, without fear of retribution from Epstein, and lend support to her court battle with Epstein’s onetime lawyer Alan Dershowitz, whom she accused of sexual abuse. (Dershowitz adamantly denies Giuffre’s claims.)

On this particular day, Giuffre was looking for Adam Perry Lang, the chef and barbecue expert behind eponymous Hollywood steakhouse APL. Lang’s hot spot is backed by one of his besties, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, and Community actor Joel McHale. His résumé includes appearances on Kimmel’s show, nods from Oprah Winfrey, and a spot on the New York Times bestseller list for his book Serious Barbecue.

But to Giuffre, Lang was Epstein’s personal chef and someone she considered a friend. Lang sneaked pizza to her after Epstein—who controlled the diets of women he abused to keep them prepubescent-thin—fell asleep upstairs.

“Justice comes in many forms. In my case, justice is holding the various perpetrators that participated, enabled or looked the other way accountable,” said Giuffre’s letter to Lang, which she read aloud during a road trip with investigative reporter Tara Palmeri. The moment is captured in Season Two of the podcast Broken: Seeking Justice, wherein Palmeri and Giuffre track down Epstein’s household staff who’ve long kept silent about the hedge funder’s activities in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “I’m not here to ruin your life,” Giuffre read. “You have so much knowledge of the various people on the planes and his homes and anywhere you would have been with him. You truly can’t say you didn’t know or you can’t remember.”

“Adam, please don’t be an enabler,” she concluded. “Be a hero. Be a hero to me, Epstein’s victims, and the millions of children who are trafficked every day. I believe you are a good man. At least the Adam I know was. Prove me right.”

Lang’s attorney, Lawrence Lustberg, said the chef is cooperating with the New York prosecutors investigating Epstein’s sex ring. Lustberg also said he contacted Giuffre’s attorney in early March and offered Lang’s assistance, but a conversation has yet to be scheduled.

“Meanwhile, Mr. Lang has begun a course of fully cooperating with the federal authorities investigating this case,” Lustberg told The Daily Beast. “He, like them and like the victims, wants only that justice be done.”

Lang echoed his attorney’s comments in an email, saying, “We have absolutely always been available to the attorneys for the lawyers representing the victims.”

Giuffre, now a mother of three, last tried to reach Lang in 2014, around the time she was preparing a defamation lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell—Epstein’s former girlfriend who is awaiting trial on federal charges related to his sex-trafficking scheme. Giuffre claims Maxwell recruited her for Epstein in 1999, groomed and sexually abused her, and forced her to have sex with powerful men until she escaped from the wealthy couple in 2002. (Maxwell denies any involvement in Epstein’s abuse of underage girls.)

Giuffre says Lang, 51, can confirm the basics of her story; unlike many other household staff, the chef traveled everywhere with Epstein, and Lang’s name is listed multiple times in flight records for the financier’s private plane. In March 2001, for example, Lang traveled from Teterboro, New Jersey, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Giuffre, Epstein, Maxwell, MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, and billionaire Henry Jarecki. (Giuffre claimed Maxwell directed her to have sex with Minsky, who died in 2016.)

Two months later, Lang flew from Teterboro to Palm Beach with Epstein, Maxwell, and her former assistant Emmy Tayler, according to a 2016 deposition of Dave Rodgers, a former pilot for Epstein. A review of flight records shows Fleur Perry Lang, the chef’s ex-wife, also joined some of these travels, including one 2002 flight from New York to Paris with Maxwell, alleged co-conspirator Sarah Kellen, and Epstein.

Rodgers said Lang often stayed at Epstein’s apartments on East 66th Street in Manhattan, a building where the financier housed women. “I’m pretty sure… Adam stayed there at the time,” Rodgers testified. “So most of the people that were regulars on the flight, they would stay there in the apartments.”

Indeed, Lang was someone Giuffre wouldn’t forget. “He used to talk to me like I was a person,” Giuffre told Palmeri. “Even if I was standing naked in front of him, he wouldn’t be there ogling me… he would be looking directly at my face. And we had wonderful moments together.”

According to Giuffre, Epstein kept his young women on “ridiculous” all-organic diets so they’d stay skinny. In those days, Giuffre was tasked with putting on Epstein’s socks and shoes, helping him bathe, and tucking him in bed.

One night, when Giuffre was on Epstein’s private island, she repaired to the kitchen after Epstein went to sleep. Lang agreed to make her pizza, she says. It became a nocturnal routine for them both, sometimes with Giuffre helping wash the dishes.

“He would have the pizza waiting for me already in the kitchen,” Giuffre recalled. “I’d jump up on the bench. We’d open a beer, which is another thing we weren’t allowed to drink, but we would have a beer together and eat pizza and just talk.”

“He just seemed like a real cool human being,” Giuffre added.

Giuffre said Maxwell put a stop to these late-night hangouts. “Ghislaine being the control freak that she was, was like keeping an eye on us, making sure we weren’t talking anymore,” Giuffre said.

Lang worked for Epstein from 1999 to 2003. After his career took off, he mentioned working for a private client in media interviews. He also discussed working on a New Mexico ranch. He did not, however, refer to Epstein by name.

After his gig with Epstein, Lang helmed the steakhouse inside Manhattan’s Penthouse strip club, as well as the now-extinct Daisy May’s BBQ USA, which Lang says he named after a dog on the New Mexico ranch where he learned his craft. “I cooked with the cowboys and they were so opinionated, but they didn’t know what they were talking about,” Lang told The New York Times in 2003.

According to the Times profile, in the 1990s Lang worked under Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque and David Waltuck at Chanterelle before moving to Paris. He returned to New York in 1997 and became a personal chef for Epstein.

Lang again referred to the New Mexico ranch in a 2014 interview with Texas Monthly, saying the property was “in the middle of nowhere” and “between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.” That description appears to match Epstein’s “Zorro Ranch” in Stanley, where the financier reportedly wanted to impregnate women and seed the world with his DNA.

“I was unaware of the depraved behavior and have great sympathy and admiration for the brave women who have come forward”

The chef didn’t identify his New Mexico employer; he would only tell Texas Monthly that in 2000 and 2001, he “catered to one individual.”

“I really hit the jackpot,” Lang wrote in 2009’s Serious Barbecue, according to the Broken: Seeking Justice podcast. “I became a private chef, a job that took me all over the world and to that sprawling ranch in New Mexico.”

Lang didn’t publicly disclose his work for Epstein until last September, when Eater published a story about Lang’s name surfacing in unsealed court records related to the sex-trafficker. In a statement to the foodie website, Lang claimed he wasn’t aware of Epstein’s pattern of molesting underage girls.

“Almost 20 years ago, as a young chef I was hired to work for Jeffrey Epstein. My role was limited to meal preparation,” Lang told Eater. “I was unaware of the depraved behavior and have great sympathy and admiration for the brave women who have come forward.” Lang’s representative told the website he wouldn’t comment further.

In Broken: Seeking Justice, Giuffre says Epstein insisted Lang memorize the names and food preferences of his high-powered guests. “Several young women who we’ve talked to remember Lang, too,” Palmeri said in the episode. “He had a presence in the house. All said he was very polite.”

When Giuffre began her tour of ex-staffers, Lang was her first stop in Los Angeles. “Who could place these people that I was trafficked out to in the various locations?” Giuffre said. “I was like, well, Adam can. Adam was there. Adam saw the people. Adam had to serve the people. Adam had to know their names.”

Giuffre hoped that with Epstein dead and gone, Lang might finally share with the world—or at least her lawyers—what he knew. She said that when girls in Epstein’s orbit lounged nude indoors or by the pool, Lang served them iced tea and jugs of water or fruit.

“He saw us all naked, all the time,” Giuffre told Palmeri.

Palmeri and Giuffre tried finding Lang at different addresses and his Hollywood restaurant. (According to reports by TMZ and Entertainment Tonight, Lang once lived in a Hermosa Beach home belonging to Kimmel. In January 2019, police arrested Lang at Kimmel’s house after receiving reports of a man assaulting his girlfriend. Lang was never charged and authorities said he was a victim of “swatting,” or a false police report.)
“I was never told of nor saw any of the depraved acts committed by Epstein and his friends.”

Lang didn’t agree to an interview with the podcast but provided the following statement:

“I have profound sympathy and admiration for the brave women who have come forward and made public Jeffery Epstein’s heinous crimes. I understand the interest in the time I spent working as a chef for Jeffrey Epstein and I am working with the lawyers representing Virginia Roberts Giuffre to provide whatever assistance I can. It pains me that I cannot provide the confirmation that you seek here, but I cannot attest to what I did not witness or cannot recall. That said, I want to be clear that I never saw sexual activity or nudity and was never aware of underage girls. I was never told of nor saw any of the depraved acts committed by Epstein and his friends. I primarily spent my time in the kitchen. Any account other than this is emphatically untrue.”

Lang, the subject of Episode One, is just one former employee on the list of Giuffre’s voyage. The episode also hints at two others for future segments: pilot Larry Visoski and former Palm Beach house manager Juan Alessi.

The podcast is produced by Sony Music Entertainment’s Three Uncanny Four Productions, which was co-founded by Adam Davidson and Laura Mayer.

Other executive producers include Adam McKay (the writer-director behind Vice and The Big Short) and Kevin Messick (producer credits for Vice and Succession) at Hyperobject Industries, and Julie K. Brown, the Miami Herald reporter whose three-part investigation in 2018 stoked public fury over Epstein’s secret plea deal.

Palmeri said Giuffre is fearless about asking Epstein’s former employees for help and chooses to see the good in people but “this was not an easy journey for her.”

“How can you see someone and not acknowledge their past and not help them?” Palmeri told The Daily Beast. “It’s a lot harder to say no to someone’s face.”

Giuffre and Palmeri waited around APL for Lang, who didn’t come out to their table despite their requests to say hello. But days later, Lang allegedly texted Giuffre and promised to contact her legal team. She was elated.

“That makes my entire day worth all the canvassing that we’ve done, everywhere we’ve gone, all the doors being slammed in our face. This makes it worth it,” Giuffre said in the podcast. “I mean, we’ve actually touched another person’s life to the point where, you know, they actually want to help now.”

Giuffre imagined Lang would sit for an affidavit to “tell my attorneys who was there, what he saw and try to be of any help.”

“And that’s all we can ask from people,” Giuffre said. “If you saw something, say something.”


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