Chef Kim Viverette, a Milwaukee transplant who recently moved to Dallas, has been under fire the last several days for not following specific instructions Keith Lee gave her for a $4,000 tip he left. 

The Background Story

Lee recently shared that Dallas would be the 11th stop on his Keith Lee and Family Food Tour. New to the city, Viverette, the owner of Sweetly Seasoned LLC food truck, had been struggling to get customers since she hadn’t had much success marketing the food truck on her own. When she learned the food critic was making his way to the area, like many local food businesses, she, her son and their friends posted videos to get his attention in hopes that he would stop by her location to taste some of the items her menu offers.

“So it’s Monday and Keith Lee is officially in Dallas. I saw him upload a video and you know I asked him for help and to come to visit my mom’s food truck to hopefully turn it around cause right now I’m having to help her out financially. I’ve never had to do that my entire life. She’s always been self-sufficient,” Trey, Viverette’s son says in a TikTok video. “You know, she is an award-winning pastry chef and she is a culinary chef. She has two degrees. Her food is extremely good. We are just from Milwaukee and here in Dallas, it’s kind of hard with the marketing because we don’t know our way even around yet. We still use GPS.”

As many know, the aftermath of the Detroit native posting a video rating an establishment’s food on his social media platforms is known as the “Keith Lee Effect,” which is the blessing of an influx of customers wanting to try that restaurant’s food due to the exposure his video reviews give them. Their wish came true when the food connoisseur surprised her with a visit.

Following Lee’s taste test, he got in line to chat with the founder of Sweetly Seasoned and gave clear directions on how he wanted his $4,000 tip dispersed. Part of the instructions was to give the on-site braider and barber $1,000 while the Sweetly Seasoned would keep the remaining.

“We want to give the barber $1000 so he can cut everybody’s hair for free,” Lee said in a video that was uploaded online.

On Jan. 31, hairstylist and content creator Sherell Hodge took to Twitter to defend her brother, a barber from Louisiana, who she claims was owed $1,000 from Viverette after Lee gave clear directions on how he wanted his $4,000 tip dispersed.

According to a video Hodge posted with the caption, “I WON’T STOP UNTIL MY BROTHER GETS HIS MONEY!!! Keith Lee said to give it to the barber… and I’m gone post the blessing blockage you did everywhere I can!! Sweetly Seasoned.. YOU OWE HIM,” she shared that the owner kept the $1,000 given for her sibling to offer customers free hair cuts the rest of the day.

In addition, she said the small business owner only gave three meals and began charging again after Lee left an extra $863 so other patrons could get free meals as well.

How Chef Viverette Responded To The Accusations

After Hodge’s video began circulating on social media, she faced a lot of backlash from the general public, especially Dallas natives who were upset that she was also making the metroplex look bad. Even celebrities like Roland Martin chimed in about the situation. 

Viverette responded from Sweetly Seasoned’s Instagram account, which has since been deleted, saying she didn’t believe she was wrong for keeping the money since Hodge and her brother weren’t employees of her food truck business.

“I don’t think I’m wrong,” she said teary-eyed in a screen-recorded video that was shared via TikTok. “And if I’m wrong, I want Keith Lee to tell me. After him knowing the truth now, if that man tell me to give me the money, I’ll give it to them because I’m in for doing the right thing.”

Keith Lee's Statement Responds To The News

After Lee caught wind of the chaos, he made a video to clear up any misconceptions the owner had and why he gave the money to the business instead of giving it to Hodge and her younger brother.

“To be honest, it’s not much to talk about but there are a few conflated and confused things that’s going around about the situation,” he began the video. “We was all under the impression that they were a team and this was a normal routine for them — the barber being there, the braider being there, family being there, a lot of people being there. This our first time here, we are customers. We have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes. Number two, I was never under the impression that haircuts was free. Again, my family was watching the Lives. We knew that he was cutting hair for $40.”

He continued, “So when we walked up and I said, ‘I wanted to give this $1,000 to the barber to do free haircuts and $1,000 to the braider to braid hair,’ it was because in the original video the son said it was slow due to marketing; that’s marketing.”

Viverette ended up posting a video on her Facebook business page asking for Hodge to come get the $2,000 they are owed.

Following that post, the page issued an apology for the “miscommunication.”

“Sweetly Seasoned will like to apologize! We thought and believed we were right but unfortunately we were wrong! This has been a huge miscommunication on our part and all funds are being released,” the statement read.

Unfortunately, it seems that it’s too late for her to salvage her food truck business and reputation with the Dallas-Fort Worth community per the comments under the published post. 

“Please take this as a learning lesson on how to operate as a decent person. Y’all should have known you were wrong from the beginning. Unfortunately, damage has been done,” one person wrote.

“Treat ppl the way you would want to be treated… you lost the support,” another said.

“Hun you had plenty of time. Unfortunately, now you don’t,” someone else agreed.