Batali steps down following sexual harassment allegations

Mario Batali 

After reports that four women have accused the culinary megastar of sexual misconduct, Mario Batali announced that he would be stepping back from day-to-day operations of his restaurant ventures. ABC has also asked the chef to step away from the daytime talk showThe Chew, where Batali is one of the hosts.

Three of Batali's accusers worked for the chef, while the fourth did not work for him but did work in the restaurant industry. Her allegation stems from conduct at a party in New Orleans approximately ten years ago, where she says that Batali groped her breasts after she spilled wine on her chest. The stories from the three employees combine with this account to show a pattern of behavior that dates back many years.

Batali was reprimanded for inappropriate behavior as recently as two months ago, said a spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, which provides support to some of the restaurants where Batali is an owner. In a statement to the website Eater, the chef did not deny the allegations. In his statement, Batali said "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 behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses."

Women have been reluctant to come forward with their stories, citing Batali's huge influence in the industry and his reputation as being vindictive as reasons they have remained silent. One woman who claims she was inappropriately touched by Batali in the 1990s said that the chef "has clear intent on being threatening when he is wronged. And the level of vindictiveness is very chilling. So, it never occurred to me to share tales out of school."

A few of the women have mixed feelings about Batali, noting that he has hired and championed female chefs in his restaurants. Del Posto's kitchen is currently led by a female executive chef and executive pastry chef. 

With the restaurant industry's longstanding reputation as a "boys club" with a pervasive culture of harassment, Batali will likely not be the last prominent chef to face allegations of impropriety. Earlier this year John Besh left his restaurant group following several accusations of harassment, and four women have also alleged harassment by former Jean-Georges pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini. 

2 Comments

  • TrishaCP  on  12/11/2017 at 9:03 PM

    What a gross pig. My thoughts are with the women that had, and still have to, tolerate this crap for a career/job. (I support and believe you!) He should get no pass for occasionally rewarding talented women with promotions when he was simultaneously dehumanizing other women.

  • djoh437938  on  12/13/2017 at 10:13 AM

    sorry to hear this about him

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