Mario Batali is stepping away from his food empire and his role as a host on ABC’s The Chew after four women accused the celebrity chef of sexual harassment and groping, incidents that allegedly date back 20 years.
In a report published Monday by Eater, a female chef who spoke on condition on anonymity accused Batali of grabbing her breasts after he offered her a job. Two other women, former Batali employees, claimed he grabbed and groped them in the kitchen. A fourth woman who worked for Batali for a year alleges he grabbed her breasts at an industry party a few years after she stopped working for him.
In a statement, Batali did not deny any of the allegations, noting that the behavior the women described “does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.”
“That behavior was wrong, and there are no excuses,” Batali said. “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.”
Batali owns nearly 30 restaurants across the country, but none in Philadelphia. It was unclear whether the news would affect rumored plans
to bring Batali’s Eataly concept, his Italian restaurant and food store, to Philadelphia as part of the revamp of the Gallery at Market East.
Eataly’s Joe Bastianich told my college Michael Klein in 2015 that Philadelphia was “definitely” on Eataly’s list of food cities for possible expansion. So far, PREIT CEO Joseph Coradino has said only that both sides were in discussions.
Steve Crane, who co-owned Pó in New York City with Batali, confirmed to Eater that multiple employees had told him of Batali’s inappropriate behavior, but that he didn’t have the power to fire Batali.
“I made it very clear to him that he needed to stop, but I feel ashamed that this happened at Pó, and my staff endured this behavior,” Crane said.
ABC has asked Batali to step away from The Chew, which he has co-hosted with fellow celebrity chef Michael Symon since 2011.
“We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” an ABC spokeswoman said. “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.”
A spokeswoman for the Food Network said the channel was putting on hold plans for Batali to relaunch Molto Mario. Last month, Batali signed a deal with the Food Network to produce the first new episodes of his popular cooking show since 2005.