Mario Batali, the chef and restaurant owner, is stepping away from the daily operations of his businesses and the daytime program he co-hosts on ABC, "The Chew", after reports of alleged sexual misconduct.
According to the report, four women have accused the high-profile chef and television personality of inappropriate touching in a series of incidents spanning at least two decades.
"Minutes into their conversation, she recalls, he told her, 'Come work for me, I'll pay you double what you're making.' Moments later, someone bumped her glass, spilling wine all over her chest and down her scooped-neck shirt". "Then, the woman said, Batali "...began rubbing her breasts with his bare hands while saying something like, 'Let me help you with that'".
A former server at the now-closed restaurant Pó "alleges that on multiple occasions Batali grabbed her from behind 'like a linebacker, like a disgusting bear hug, ' and pressed her body against his", Eater reported. According to Eater, the first official complaint was made to the company in October 2017 and Batali was "reprimanded and required to undergo training".
Back at the press preview last month, Batali said the recent developments signal a changing of the guard, not just in the film and TV industries, but in the restaurant industry as well.More news: Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Announced
"That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses", he said. The company said it was not aware of other complaints at its restaurants.
The restaurateur released a statement in response to the allegations, which reads in part: "I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt".
Batali will remain an owner at his restaurants, but he said he would hand over day-to-day oversight of his businesses while he works to regain the trust of those he has hurt and disappointed. We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior. "But when several people are willing to go on record, I think we have to pay attention and take them seriously". I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there. It was there that his signature look, a fleece vest, shorts, and orange Crocs, became instantly recognizable to most people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team.
"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", an ABC spokesperson told AFP. "I will spend the next period of time trying to do that", he said, declining to specify how long that period might be. It's also a partner in Eataly, an Italian food hall and grocer, which has locations in New York, Chicago and Boston.Batali has always been socially active.
His career took off after opening Po in New York City in the early 1990s, and he skyrocketed to fame with the airing of "Molto Mario", a show that ran on the Food Network for eight years, until 2004.