At least three former employees and a female chef who did not work for Mario Batali have accused the restaurateur of inappropriate physical contact, including groping their breasts and buttocks without consent. Recently reprimanded for inappropriate behavior in the workplace, Batali issued an apology to his victims while agreeing to step away from his business operations and co-hosting duties on ABC’s “The Chew.”
“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” Batali said in a recent statement. “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.”
An investigative report from Eater revealed Batali was reprimanded and required to undergo training after a B&B restaurant employee officially reported inappropriate behavior by Batali in October. At least four other women recounted further incidents of sexual harassment while working with Batali or during social events.
“We take these allegations very seriously. We pride ourselves on being a workplace for our employees where they can grow and deliver great service with equal opportunity and free from any discrimination. We have strong policies and practices in place that address sexual harassment. We train employees in these policies and we enforce them, up to and including termination,” B&B wrote in a recent statement. “Mr. Batali and we have agreed that he will step away from the company’s operations, including the restaurants, and has already done so.”
Batali’s business partner, Joe Bastianich, stated, “Right now, I’m just focused on ensuring that our more than 1,000 employees continue to have a safe and positive work environment.”
According to Eater, a former server accused Batali of grabbing her from behind and repeatedly smelling her at his restaurant Pó during the ’90s. The unidentified server did not report the incidents for fear of retaliation against her.
Another former employee accused Batali of groping her butt and blocking her exit while sitting at a table with her. A third former employee alleged that Batali groped her breasts during an industry party in 2011.
A fourth woman who did not work for Batali recalled him grabbing her breasts during an industry after-party in New Orleans approximately 10 years ago. Referring to Batali, she said, “He gets wasted, he’s arrogant, and he acts like he’s God’s gift to women.”
“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 spokesperson told CNN. “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.”