In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and all of the celebs who have been accused of sexual misconduct ever since, famous chefs are now being added to that list.
For years, renowned chef and restaurant owner Mario Batali has made a name for himself in the kitchen. But according to four women that either worked for him or idolized him as a chef, it was what was going on behind the scenes that no one talked about. Or rather, they did, but it’s only surfacing now in the public eye.
According to these women — who remain nameless in the Eater article that outs the chef through a variety of in-depth interviews — Batali has a history of groping women without their permission. In fact, he once forced an employee to straddle him, has grabbed a former employee’s breasts and has made plenty of inappropriate comments, especially whenever he had a bit too much to drink.
Additionally, as recently as two months ago, Batali was required to undergo training at his company, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, when an employee reported sexual misconduct. And back in the day when Batali co-owned Pó, an Italian restaurant, with Steve Crane, Crane was told by several female staff members that Batali was acting inappropriately.
“I made it very clear to him that he needed to stop, but I feel ashamed that this happened at Pó, and my staff endured this behaviour,” he told Eater.
So what does Batali have to say for himself? More than most men in his shoes. Not only is he stepping down from his gigantic restaurant empire (he and Joe Bastianich presently own 24 eateries), but he’s admitting that this alleged behaviour is pretty much in line with how he’s acted in the past and he has no excuses.
“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behaviour described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family,” he said in a statement.
“I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses. We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behaviour. I won’t make that mistake again. I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there,” he added.
While we commend Batali for taking responsibility and not denying or shying away from the media, you have to wonder how much of it is to save face and money, and to keep people coming to his restaurants. Regardless, while he sits back and sorts through his life, he won’t be making any TV appearances either. ABC has asked him to step away from his co-hosting duties on daytime talk series The Chew until they can get to the bottom of these allegations.
“ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct,” ABC told Eater.
What a way to wrap 2017, huh? What other gross stories of formerly beloved celebrities are going to surface next? We have no idea, but in the meantime, we know which restaurants won’t be making our must-frequent lists for 2018.