Chris Painter, the decorated chef at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown, has been suspended by his business partners over sexual-harassment allegations by four former restaurant employees, according to a report on Philadelphia Magazine’s website.
In an interview with the magazine, one of the women — Marqessa Gesualdi, a former Mulherin’s pastry chef — described it “like walking into an episode of Mad Men — the way that they view women, talk about women, treat women. I was the only woman in that kitchen for a couple months. … Everybody thinks [Chris Painter] is so great, but nobody knows what it’s like to work for him.”
Co-owners Randall Cook and David Grasso, informed that an article was being prepared, issued a statement to the magazine, saying that they had been made aware last June of “a disturbing incident,” which, after an investigation, led to management training, new policies, and the hiring of an outside human resources company to handle issues. “We are horrified by these allegations,” the statement read. “As a company, we take any form of harassment or abuse extremely seriously.”
The magazine told the owners that at least one women — former server Amber Smith — had alleged poor behavior before June, suggesting a systemic issue.
Grasso told the magazine that Smith had not made him aware of a “systemic issue.” He said if that were true, “heads will definitely roll.”
The restaurant industry has been grappling with sexual-harassment allegations, as women have spoken out against celebrity chefs such as Mario Batali and John Besh.
Grasso, Cook, and Painter did not reply to messages.