Mario Batali is stepping aside from his restaurants in light of sexual harassment allegations against him.
Four women have come forward in an exposé published in Eater claiming the famous chef “touched them inappropriately” in a pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades. Three of four worked for Batali at some point during their careers.
One female chef remembered the 57-year-old groping her breasts at an event 10 years ago after wine spilled on her shirt. She recalled:
“He just went to town, and I was so shocked. Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.”
Another woman said Batali also grabbed her breasts, while another said he repeatedly grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against him.
In October, Batali was reprimanded after an employee officially complained about his alleged inappropriate behavior.
In a statement to the outlet, The Chew star said he was stepping away from his businesses and restaurants for an unspecified period of time — and ABC has asked him to remove himself “while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention.”
“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.”
Batali is married to Susi Cahn, with whom he has two sons. The two have been married since 1994, so it’ll be interesting to see if their marriage can survive this scandal.
[Image via Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.]