Acclaimed chef and star of ABC’s “The Chew,” Mario Batali has been accused of sexual misconduct, an allegation that caused the celebrity chef to step away from his daily duties at both his businesses and the morning cooking show.
According to a detailed report in Eater, one of his accusers says Batali had been drinking when he touched her inappropriately approximately 10 years ago.
A woman in her 20s walked up to Mario Batali to introduce herself. When they started talking, she recalls, she realized that he’d been drinking and he became what she characterized as “creepy” — “just giving me this provocative, icky feeling.”
Moments later, someone bumped her glass, spilling wine all over her chest and down her scooped-neck shirt. She alleges that Batali began rubbing her breasts with his bare hands while saying something like, “Let me help you with that,” as he groped her chest. “He just went to town, and I was so shocked,” the chef says. “Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.”
That account is one of four from women revealing Batali engaged in repeated and inappropriate behavior. According to Eater, it’s a “pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades.”
Three of the women worked for Batali in some capacity during their careers.
One former employee alleges that over the course of two years, he repeatedly grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against his body.
Another former employee alleges that he groped her and that, in a separate incident, he compelled her to straddle him.
Another alleges that he grabbed her breasts at a party, though she no longer worked for him at the time.
A spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group (B&B) – which manages around 24 restaurants that include those owned by Batali – said as recently as October 2017, a B&B restaurant employee reported inappropriate behavior by Batali. Batali was reportedly reprimanded and told to undergo treatment.
Batali told Eater that “he is stepping away from the day-to-day operations of his businesses for an unspecified period of time.” As for his duties at “The Chew,” where Batali has co-hosted since 2011, ABC reportedly asked the chef to step away from the show “while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” according to a spokesperson.
Batali’s representative sent The New York Times indicating the accusations “match up” with ways Batali has behaved in the past; Batali did not deny all the allegations.
Batali’s full statement reads:
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. 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.
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 behavior. 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.
I know my actions have disappointed many people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team. The failures are mine alone. To the people who have been at my side during this time — my family, my partners, my employees, my friends, my fans — I am grateful for your support and hopeful that I can regain your respect and trust. I will spend the next period of time trying to do that.
“Batali was reprimanded for inappropriate behavior in the workplace as recently as two months ago.” https://t.co/ee7qxiBvuj
— Stacey E. Singleton (@staceyNYCDC) December 11, 2017
JUST IN: Mario Batali is taking a leave of absence from his restaurant empire and his ABC hosting gig amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct https://t.co/r3YYEbdhv1
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 11, 2017
Mario Batali: “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” https://t.co/MATr6gl7Zw
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 11, 2017
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