Mario Batali is stepping away from his restaurant business after four women have accused him of sexual harassment. Eater published the story on Monday morning, where the women detail their incidents with the celebrity chef.
According to their accounts, Batali's inappropriate behavior spans over two decades. One unnamed chef recalled an incident about 10 years ago at a NYC wine auction afterparty. After someone accidentally spilled wine on her shirt, he reportedly rubbed her breasts while saying “Let me help you with that. He just went to town, and I was so shocked,” the chef says. “Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.” Another woman, who is a former employee, alleges Batali repeatedly grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against his body over the span of two years.
Along with stepping back from Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, Batali has also been outed as co-host of ABC's The Chew. “We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention. ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment, a spokesperson shared in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. 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.”
Batali also came forward with a statement:
“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," Batali said. "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 has been one of four co-hosts of ABC’s daytime cooking and lifestyle show The Chew since 2011. He is the latest high profile figure to be involved sexual harassment or assault scandal, following Russell Simmons, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Danny Masterson and countless others.