To millions of viewers, the relationship between Pat and Gina Neely on-screen appeared to be one filled with joy and love for one another. The married couple of 20 years had shot to fame on the Food Network with their cookery programs Down Home with the Neelys and Road Tasted with the Neelys. The cooking twosome were welcomed into many homes across the U.S. to share their expertise on southern-style BBQ cuisine. Yet, behind the scenes, it turns out things were not quite so hot. Indeed, there was an increasing coolness between the two which ended up with them freezing each other out. Not that their adoring fan base would have known, and perhaps there were various other tasty secrets the viewers were blind to. Pull up a chair, we have served up 20 of them to get your teeth into…
20. They like their greens
It seems all of their small-screen appearances on the Food Network paid off big time for 53-year-old Pat and 52-year-old Gina Neely – quite literally. Thanks to the Memphis, Tennessee-based couple’s work on TV, their many restaurants and literary output – the Neelys have cooked up lots of greens during their time in the spotlight. Allegedly, Pat has a tasty net worth of $1.5 million, while Gina has reportedly stirred up a pot of about $2 million. Ka-ching!
19. Low-down on high-school romance
But the celebrity-chef team’s personal recipe for success has been a long time in preparation. Indeed, Pat and Gina were romantically involved way before their stint on the Food Network began. In fact, they first met at high school in Detroit, Michigan, in the 1980s, engaging in an on/off relationship before it ended in the latter. However, fate had other ideas and their affair was reheated at tenth anniversary school reunion. Ultimately, this led to their marriage in 1994, and they set up home with two daughters, Spenser and Shelbi. Unfortunately, some 20 years after they said their vows, Pat and Gina called it quits once more.
18. Split TV personalities
In 2014 the Food Network favorites announced that they were filing for divorce. It was an end to their marriage and a full stop on the successful TV partnership they had built together. And it was a surprising turn of events for fans of the couple, who had enjoyed their seemingly great on-screen chemistry for several years. Yet, despite the fact that they divorced shortly after the announcement, it was just the start of the kitchen-sink drama for Pat and Gina. Indeed, it was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire when some spicy revelations came to the fore…
17. Off the menu
Followers of the reality TV stars were aware that the married celebrity chefs had their fingers in other pies. As well as their two hit shows, Pat and Gina were business partners with a string of successful restaurants across the U.S. However, after their split, the Neelys found it difficult to remain in business together with a mutual personal understanding off the menu. This is probably one of the reasons why their New York establishment, Neely’s, was closed down in 2015.
16. No quick fix
But it cannot be said that Pat and Gina sat idly by while their relationship went to ruin. Indeed, they attempted to fix things numerous times, entering couple-based therapy on no less than 12 occasions. Unfortunately, however, any hopes they had of repairing their marriage were to no avail. The heat was too much, and they had to get out of the kitchen in 2014. Yet, this exit almost came much earlier…
15. Five-course route to divorce
In fact, Gina later claimed that she knew the clock was running down on the marriage when they first started shooting Down Home with the Neelys back in 2008. She had tried to call time on the relationship before their eventual split but could never muster up the courage. Gina admitted as much on Oprah Winfrey’s Where Are They Now? in October, 2016. “I tried to leave five times and I just didn’t have the strength but the fifth time I held on to that,” she revealed. “It became necessary for me to find my path.”
14. Kids’ menu
It turned out that part of the reason Gina found it difficult to call it quits with Pat was because of their children. The talented female chef had been brought up in a broken home and she did not want the same for young Spenser and Shelbi. Gina told People magazine in February, 2018, that she “wanted to break the cycle of that” when it came to her kids.
13. Cry for love
Nonetheless, while things may have looked cosy in the television kitchen between the ever-affectionate Pat and Gina, elsewhere it was a different story. In January 2018, Gina dished it all up to the reality TV show To Rome for Love. “I was always seen as this person that has it together,” she said. “I would cry in my pillow at night. I would cry in the car. I would cry anywhere anyone couldn’t see me.”
12. Once was enough
The pressure-cooker environment of the couple’s high-profile TV work certainly seemed to have put a strain on the Neely’s relationship. And, unfortunately, it was stress that Gina had not even welcomed in the first place. “I never aspired to be a chef,” she explained to the To Rome for Love cameras. “My ex and I worked together at a family-restaurant BBQ business. I thought it would be one show, [and] we’d go back to our regular lives. Who knew it would be the highest-rated show on Food Network?”
11. Daughters demanded no more
Nevertheless, although the televisual fame was a pain for Gina, she refused to let the network down. And this would be even if it meant going against her daughters’ wishes. Yes, not relishing the limelight, both Spenser and Shelbi begged their mother to give up her TV work. But Gina’s determination to stick it out took priority over anything else. Furthermore, the reluctant chef claimed that her commitment to the Food Network organization was also a factor in her decision to try and remain married to Pat.
10. Family recipe
And throughout the heartbreaking marital ordeal, Gina always spared a thought for her daughters. As a matter of fact, she maintains that this was why she never revealed any problems between her and Pat to the media. “I was always worried about my girls,” Gina told People in 2018. “And it was also important to me that I just didn’t go out blabbing on their dad and being ugly. Because, at the end of the day, they’re our daughters.”
9. Secret ingredient
While Gina and Pat’s marriage was much-publicized during their Food Network fame, their was one morsel of truth which remained off the table. Indeed, the cover stayed on Gina’s long-term romance prior to the Neelys tying the knot. In fact, Gina had been married before, and she had actually had eldest daughter Spenser with the hidden hubby in 1989. But why such mystery surrounding this secret ingredient in her love life? Whatever the reason, Gina has not exactly been forthcoming about her first marriage since she shot to fame.
8. Hungry for love
But despite being divorced twice in the past, Gina is still searching for her happy-ever-after. She actually appeared on To Rome for Love in 2018 to try and find an Italian prince charming. The reality TV show coaches African-American females in romance and sends them off to Italy’s capital to get lucky. And Gina spoke to People on the eve of the program’s broadcast. “I want to find love again – love being in love,” she confided. “I want to get married again. I love being married. I’m not against marriage and I’m not against love.”
7. Losing it after divorce
Following her divorce from Pat, Gina appeared to enjoy a new lease of life – something which seemed to manifest itself in her appearance. Unhappy with her weight, Gina shed an incredible 34 pounds in two years. She confessed all on 2014’s Where Are They Now? “I knew I wasn’t happy and I said I’m definitely not going to take 50 [years old] and not be happy,” she said. “So, at 46, I started changing my life, I started changing my body. I realized I liked that better.”
6. Didn’t want to appear a big head
Subsequently, however, this weight loss was not an enduring success for Gina. In fact, the BBQ belle intentionally put it all back on again. What made her do it? Well, she laid it all out on a plate for People magazine. “I was about to look like a bobblehead, I had to catch myself,” she said. “Because once you get in that habit of losing weight, you start looking big in your head.”
5. Loss of appetite
However, in the same interview Gina confessed that her appetite for one thing during her marriage had gradually disappeared. It seemed to her that the more Pat wanted to be around his wife off screen, the less Gina wanted to see of him. She said, “He felt like we didn’t spend enough time together. I felt like we did, and we needed a little space.”
4. Truth was hard to swallow
With everything that they had been through together, it is probably no surprise that Pat found the divorce from Gina hard to swallow. He appeared on the talk show Lift Every Voice in 2015 soon after the split. He said, “Something like that is always devastating because my whole thing was to spend the rest of my life with my high-school sweetheart.”
3. Nil by mouth
Sadly, the ex-spouses are estranged these days. Gina confirmed as much to People magazine. “I haven’t spoken to Pat in four years,” she revealed. “I don’t wish him any harm, but he’s never reached out to me… I guess he’s well?” It may be unfortunate that the two BBQ chefs have beef and don’t communicate anymore, but perhaps it is for the best.
2. They kept things under wraps
And it had emerged that the Neelys had not talked to anyone about their initial separation. Unlike some celebrity couples in the digital age, Pat and Gina did not go running to the tabloids at the first sign of trouble. Instead, the pair chose to hide their split for two years while they tried to get their marriage back on track. Appearing on the Wendy Williams Show in 2014, Gina recalled, “We were trying to work on it and do some things differently, but it ended up that way. We’re all in a good place and at the end of the day, that’s what’s important to me.”
1. Some fans turned off
But perhaps not everyone was feeling so good about things. Unsurprisingly, after all of this came out in the open, some fans felt betrayed by the Neelys. Viewers were stunned that there were very real problems in the reality TV couple’s relationship, especially considering how happy they appeared on the small screen. Sadly, it seems that much of Pat and Gina’s mutual affection for the cameras’ benefit was masking the real flavor of their dysfunctional marriage. In essence, a portion of their audience felt that they had been lied to by the Neelys and ultimately it left a bad taste in the mouth.