Mario Batali Sexual Harassment Allegations

The chef is stepping down from his restaurant group and 'The Chew'

Mario Batali is stepping down from his restaurant group after four women—three of whom are former employees—came forward to Eater, recounting experiences of sexual harassment that occurred across 20-plus years.

The victims, who chose to remain anonymous in fear of retribution, shared experiences that started as early as the 90s. One instance included a time when Batali began rubbing a woman's breasts bare-handed after wine was spilled on her chest. "He just went to town, and I was so shocked," she told Eater

Other stories involved occasions when Batali would unexpectedly grope female employees' behinds or breasts, and an occurrence when he sat in front of a doorway, forcing one worker to straddle and climb over him to make her way through.

Steve Crane, who was a co-owner of one of Batali's former restaurants, shared how he would receive reports that Batali would make lewd comments to female servers, while grabbing them by their behinds and snapping their bra straps. Yet, many of those employees would ask Crane not to confront Batali, since the latter would have a tendency to become more aggressive. "He [Batali] has clear intent on being threatening when he is wronged. And the level of vindictiveness is very chilling," the women explained. "You're a leader in this industry—if you behave this way, what kind of example are you setting?" 

Eater's investigation also found that Batali's behavior continued as recently as two months ago—the same time period when John Besh sparked the restaurant industry's "Harvey Weinstein moment." A spokesperson for Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group confirmed they received a formal complaint about Batali's misconduct in October 2017.

"I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt," the celebrity chef said in a statement to Eater. "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 is stepping away from his numerous businesses for the time being, and ABC has removed him from The Chew while the show's executives review the allegations.  

Batali might be the biggest name in the food world to face harassment allegations, but the size of the star is irrelevant in such matters. And with Time magazine recently naming The Silence Breakers as Person of the Year, it's clear that this is just another moment in a pivotal time when male leaders across all industries are being brought down by their past victims of sexual misconduct. 

Read the full story on Eater.