It’s a culinary catfight.
The owner of a buzzy Los Angeles restaurant has accused her estranged husband and co-chef of killing their pet cats in an explosive divorce filing that has rocked Tinseltown and spawned wild rumors on social media.
Elizabeth Johnson, 32, and Will Aghajanian, 31, opened Hollywood eatery Horses in late 2021, which quickly went on to become the city’s chicest celebrity hangout, boasting clientele including Jeff Bezos, Jay-Z, Will Ferrell and Chrissy Teigen.
Johnson and Aghajanian were hailed as “power-couple chefs,” and the restaurant was profiled in publications including Vanity Fair and the New York Times.
However, behind the scenes, the relationship between the hot chefs was considerably cooler.
In the LA Court divorce filing obtained by the Post, Johnson accuses her husband of domestic violence and animal abuse.
“[Will] and I have had a number of cats that mysteriously ended up dying. At least one of them was examined at a shelter, and I was told she had been seriously abused,” Johnson claimed in the docs. “[He] always denied it was him, and I believed him.”
Johnson also claimed in the filings that she was given another kitten late last year, which Aghajanian allegedly joked about “feeding to coyotes.”
She later claimed to have witnessed her husband abusing the animal, stating: “I caught Will violently shaking the cat late at night, and he died the next day,” she wrote. “Will put the dead cat in the trash and insisted on keeping the corpse in the house.”
Aghajanian has denied Johnson’s claims in his own court filings, describing them as “false allegations.”
The Post has reached out to Aghajanian and Johnson for comment.
Meanwhile, the LA Times — who first broke the divorce story — reported that Aghajanian’s own mother reported in a declaration that the couple had a “series of kittens” that died when he and Johnson were living in New York City.
“Liz talked about them and how one after the other died. She and Will believed that it was due to rat poison used in the buildings there,” she reportedly stated.
On Wednesday, shortly before the LA Times published their report, wild rumors began spreading on social media, with some saying up to eight cats associated with Aghajanian had all mysteriously died.
There are also bizarre claims going viral that the animals were abused in more disturbing manner. It’s currently unclear how the more sensational rumors started blowing up on Twitter. However, Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz teased that another, longer — and potentially more explosive— piece is soon set to be published by a freelance journalist.
On Twitter, however, others defended Aghajanian, with several claiming the unsubstantiated allegations were “all made up for her [Johnson] to regain ownership” of Horses.
Meanwhile, in the divorce filing, Johnson also asked for a domestic violence restraining order, claiming Aghajanian had abused her.
In 2019, she claimed that Aghajanian dragged her by the legs across the floor while she screamed and attempted to resist.
However, he has clapped back, claiming Johnson was the abusive partner in their ill-fated love match — and that her allegations are part of a sinister smear campaign to “take my businesses away from me through divorce.”
“I love cats, mice. And every other animal under gods/allah whatever each religion calls him/her and have loved all animals since I was a child,” Aghajanian told the LA Times. “I have problems killing lobster, and usually try to do it in the most humane way possible.”
“She falsely accuses me of things that she has done or that she threatened to do to me and my pets,” he wrote as part of his divorce filing. “My pets are like children to me and I love them dearly.”
Aghajanian added that he had been physically abused by Johnson, saying she had “burned him at least twice with a metal spatula and a spoon she had placed in a fryer.”
A friend also filed a declaration as party of the acrimonious divorce saying he had personally witnessed Johnson hitting Aghajanian and “belligerently screaming” at him.
Following the publication of the LA Times story on Wednesday, the official Instagram account for Horses posted a statement that read: “Will Aghajanian has been on a leave of absence from Horses as of November 2022, and since then he has not been involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.”
Johnson is continuing to lead the restaurant.
This article was originally posted by New York Post.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings