Restaurateur Mario Batali is stepping down from both his company and ABC’s The Chew for an indefinite period, the result of a lengthy expose on foodie blog Eater New York that accuses the famous chef of sexual harassment of four women.
“We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” a spokeswoman for ABC said in a statement. “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.”
The Eater article accuses the celebrity chef of “inappropriate touching” over “at least two decades.”
“Three of the women worked for Batali in some capacity during their careers,” the article states. “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.”
Batali told the website, “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.”
In addition to his co-hosting duties on ABC’s afternoon foodie show, Batali co-owns, with Joe Bastianich, B&B Hospitality Group, operating more than 20 restaurants around the world, including the hugely popular Eataly restaurants and gourmet markets in New York and Los Angeles.
Anthony Bourdain, rival TV chef and host of CNN’s Parts Unknown, tweeted the following: