TEANECK — The owner of two restaurants who was once featured on the TV show "Chopped" was arrested on sexual assault charges Thursday.

Shalom Yehudiel, 40, who lives in Surfside, Florida, was arrested in Newark on Thursday.

The FBI contacted the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office in November after allegations were reported to them that Yehudiel sexually assaulted a child under the age of 16 on more than one occasion in Teaneck.

Yehudiel was charged with first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. He is being held at the Bergen County Jail pending his first court appearance.

Praise during the pandemic

According to Yehudiel 's Linkedin page, he is the owner of The Humble Toast and the founder of La Cucina Di Nava, an Italian restaurant that is kosher. He won community praise for offering meals to those in need during the pandemic and donating to soup kitchens, according to NorthJersey.com.

Yehudiel was the first chef to compete on The Food Channel's program "Chopped" using all kosher ingredients.

Praise and fame were replaced by protests in 2021 as two lawsuits were brought against Yehudiel about inappropriate sexual behavior between 2016 and 2018.  One lawsuit filed by a woman in December 2020 accused Yehudiel of making "vulgar and derogatory comments" about her and other females when she was 17-years-old and was a hostess at The Humble Toast.

Two lawsuits alleging sexual behavior

The lawsuit says Yehudiel offered her a ride home on her first day of work and tried to touch and kiss her. He would also call her into his office and lock the door behind her and tried to get her to disrobe, the lawsuit says.

A second lawsuit was filed in January 2021 by a woman who says she was 15 at the time  Yehudiel made sexual advances at their synagogue in Fair Lawn.

Yehudiel denied the allegations but he stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the restaurants, according to NorthJersey.com. Protesters demanded the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County pull The Humble Toast's kosher certificate.

The Bergen County prosecutor's statement on Thursday did not address whether the charges are related to the allegations in either lawsuit.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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