Thursday, August 13, 2009
TV CHEF BOILS OVER
BURKE SLAMMED CAR HOOD ON ME: CHAUFFEUR
By BRAD HAMILTON
Culinary whiz David Burke pounded his chauffeur like a veal cutlet, punching him in the face and slamming a car-trunk hood on his head after the driver asked to go home for his wife’s birthday, according to the alleged victim and a police report.
Whipping-post wheelman Thomas Heiser, 28, filed an affidavit in Fort Lee, NJ, Municipal Court alleging his former boss assaulted him in a bloody battering on June 11.
A Jersey judge must now decide whether Burke, 47, will face charges that carry up to six months in jail.
Burke, flamboyant and wildly successful, is best known for his appearance on “Iron Chef America” and a celeb-magnet restaurant on East 61st Street called David Burke Townhouse.
Heiser says he was attacked by the 270-pound restaurant giant after waiting five hours while Burke bounced from bar to bar along Main Street in Fort Lee.
“I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, chef, you want me to take you home?’ I was kind of telling him I wanted to go home because it was my wife’s birthday,” Heiser said.
“He called me a piece of s- – -, – – -hole, lazy mother – – – – – -, which wasn’t unusual. He said, ‘Give me the keys. You walk home.’ ”
Heiser was gathering his laptop computer and phone from the front seat of Burke’s 2007 Cadillac DTS when the chef allegedly punched him in the face three or four times — then slammed the hood on Heiser’s head as the driver collected some clothes from the trunk.
The driver called 911, and Fort Lee cops responded.
He filed a complaint on June 19. He said the attack left him with a black eye, a knot on his head and blurred vision.
Cops said Burke admitted to insulting his driver, but denied the assault.
Heiser’s lawyer, Salvatore Strazzullo, intends to hit Burke with a $1 million suit in Manhattan federal court in the next two weeks.
“Burke’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said the powerhouse Manhattan attorney.
But Burke denied Heiser’s story. “That rendition is exaggerated by a disgruntled former employee,” a spokesperson said.