Celebrity chef Mario Batali accused of sexual misconductby Richard Bailey 11/12/2017 11:04:00 0 comments 1 Views
- Eater NY published expose Monday based on interview with four accusers, among them three former employees
- The women accused Mario Batali of groping their breasts, making them straddle his legs and related misconduct
- Batali, 57, apologized for his 'failures' and said he was stepping away from his business empire
- Batali always is taking time off from ABC's The Chew, which he has been co-hosting since 2011, in light of the allegations
- He is married to daughter of Coach Handbags co-founder Miles Cahn, and the couple have two teenage sons together
By Snejana Farberov For Dailymail.com
Published: 09:55 EST, 11 December 2017 | Updated: 11:04 EST, 11 December 2017
Celebrity chef, restaurateur and co-host of ABC's The Chew Mario Batali on Monday was publicly accused of inappropriate touching and sexual misconduct over the course of 20 years.
The website Eater NY published a bombshell expose detailing the allegations of sexual misconduct against the 57-year-old businessman, cookbook author and married father-of-two.
Three of the unnamed accusers worked for Batali's restaurant empire during the 1990s, while the fourth was not an employee of his but had an encounter with him at a party in New Orleans a decade ago.
Celebrity chef and restaurateur Mario Batali (pictured right with his friend Gwyneth Paltrow) on Monday was publicly accused of inappropriate touching and sexual misconduct
ABC, where Batali has been co-hosting the daytime cooking show The Chew, has asked the chef to step away from the program
One former employee claimed that Batali repeatedly grabbed her from behind in a 'disgusting bear hug' and pressed her body against his on the job; another accused him of groping her and forcing her to straddle his legs, and a third said the famed chef grabbed her breasts at a party.
The most detailed account comes from a female chef, then in her 20s, who ran into Batali at an after-party that followed a wine auction in New Orleans about 10 years ago and struck up a conversation with the revered restaurateur, but quickly realized that he was drunk.
The woman, who was not identified, claimed that a few minutes into their encounter, Batali turned 'creepy' and offered her a job on the spot at double the salary she was getting.
As they were talking, someone bumped the woman's hand, prompting her to spill wine all over the front of her shirt. That is when, according to the chef, Batali proceeded to rub her breasts under the guise of helping her clean up.
'He just went to town, and I was so shocked,' the accuser told Eater NY. 'Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.'
Married man: Batali's wife is Susi Cahn, the daughter of the late Miles Cahn, co-founder of Coach Handbags. The pair, pictured left in June and right in October 2017, have two teenage sons together
Batali attends Eataly Los Angeles Grand Opening Celebration at Eataly LA on November 3, 2017. He is a minority shareholder in the Eataly chain
In response to the story, Batali issued a statement apologizing for his 'failures' and announcing his decision to stay away from the day-to-day operations of his business empire spanning 25 restaurants, which are part of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group.
The explosive revelations come just two months after the gregarious Food Network star, known for wearing shorts paired with orange Crocs, was reprimanded and forced to undergo sexual harassment training after being accused of inappropriate behavior by an employee, according to Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. It was the first formal complaint against Batali.
The company, founded by Batali and Joe Bastianich - the son of celebrity chef and cookbook author Lidia Bastianich - employs over 1,000 people and includes the celebrated Del Posto and Babbo, which boast one Michelin star each.
A former waitress at the now-shuttered West Village eatery Po told Eater that on multiple occasions over the course of two years in the 90s, Batali grabbed her from behind 'like a linebacker, like a disgusting bear hug,' and pressed up against her, often while they were alone in a passageway between the kitchen and the dining room.
‘He would breathe on me, and sometimes take a deep inhale, like he was smelling me,’ she said.
Batali and chef Michael Symon (left) are pictured cooking together on The Chew, which the pair have been co-hosting since its premiere in 2011
Another former employee who worked for Batali in the late 90s said that on one occasion, he placed his hand on her buttocks and squeezed. When she later confronted him, Batali inquired asked her if she was a lesbian, according to the accuser.
Three years later, the womam had another encounter with Batali, during which she said he blocked her way by propping up his feet and forcing her to straddle his legs, twice.
‘The woman said it was 'disappointing' and 'humiliating.'
A third woman who was briefly employed by Food Network's Iron Chef claimed that during an industry party in 2011, a few years after she had stopped working for him, a seemingly inebriated Batali groped her breasts.
‘I took a step back and I pushed him away, and when I did that, I remember he said, “Oh, come on,”’ she told Eater. ‘In that moment I realized, “I’m just a body [to him].”’
'I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,' Batali said in his statement to Eater NY on Monday. '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.
Batali, pictured in his orange Crocs, has been married to Cahn since 1994
He went on to say: '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. 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.'
ABC, where Batali has been co-hosting the daytime cooking show The Chew since it premiered in 2011, said it has asked the chef to step away from the program while it was reviewing the allegations against him.
'ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment,' a network spokesperson said. '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.'
Batali's wife is Susi Cahn, the daughter of the late Miles Cahn, co-founder of Coach Handbags. The couple got married in 1994 and have two sons together, ages 14 and 16. They split their time between New York City’s Greenwich Village and Northern Michigan.