ROCKAWAY BEACH — A Queens chef known as “the Pizza Nazi” was dragged out of his restaurant in handcuffs early Saturday for growing pot — after he tried to pass it off to police first as a cooking herb and then as catnip, according prosecutors.
Whitney Aycock, 43, the owner and head chef of Whit’s End on Rockaway Boulevard and Beach 97 Street, screamed, writhed and cursed as he was arrested just after midnight Saturday for growing cannabis without a license, the Queens District Attorney said.
Two police officers spotted a suspicious plant at the back of the high-end pizza place late Friday evening and when they questioned the chef, he told them it was a lemon verbena plant, according to the criminal complaint.
“Those are herbs," said Aycock. "I use them for my restaurant."
Aycock then changed his story and told the police it was catnip, an herb not featured on the beach-side pizza joint menu.
The officers, who recognized the plant as marijuana because of its ridged leaves and pungent smell, led the handcuffed chef out of the restaurant as Whit’s End patrons swarmed around them and joined Aycock in cursing, according to the complaint.
Had the police officers read the menu, they might have been warned of the insults to come. The last page features a list of the restaurant’s many faults.
“We say f— a lot-really, a lot!” the menu reads.
Ayock earned the "Pizza Nazi" moniker for his rigid style of service, including refusing to sell slices and charging a 500 percent markup for pies not on the menu.
He was charged with growing unlicensed cannabis, disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration, according to the complaint.
An NYPD spokesman said the chef has two priors, which are sealed, and Aycock told Grub Street he was arrested in Georgia for driving under the influence and hijacking farm equipment.
As a final defense, the chef — whose LinkedIn profile cites 10 years cooking experience and a stint at renowned Italian restaurant Salumeria Rosi — told police that he had been duped into believing the illegal drug was a fresh herb.
“If it’s anything that it’s not supposed to be, then you shouldn’t be speaking to me,” Aycock said. “You should be speaking to the people who sold it to me.”
Contact information wasn’t immediately available for Aycock’s attorney and the phone at Whit’s End was disconnected Tuesday.
The locations page of the restaurant’s website features picture of a white paper plate with the message, “Closed. Go f— off and die. Thanks.”