Mario Batali ‘steps away’ from ‘The Chew’ following allegations of harassment

Eataly L.A. Grand Opening

The rumors started circulating on Twitter last night – a prominent chef was about to be “outed” as a sex predator this week. People treated the rumors like a blind item – who could it be? Anthony Bourdain? Bobby Flay? Emeril? But no – it’s Mario Batali, he of the Crocs and gross-looking Italian food. Batali was the co-host of the popular daytime chat show/cooking show The Chew, and he’s now stepped down from that show. The Eater had details of the allegations against Batali, which you can read here. A decade ago, he got really creepy and gross with a young chef and even groped her breasts. Three other women who worked for him in various capacities over the years have stories of his repeated gropes/assaults and demands that they touch him or sit on him, etc. Batali was quietly reprimanded for “inappropriate behavior” two months ago and was forced into harassment training by his company. Batali released a statement to Eater:

In a statement to Eater, Batali said that he is stepping away from the day-to-day operations of his businesses for an unspecified period of time. ABC, where Batali has co-hosted the daytime show The Chew since 2011, has also asked the chef to step away from the show “while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” a spokesperson said.

Batali did not deny all the allegations, saying that they “match up” with ways he has behaved.

“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 remains an owner of his individual restaurants, according to the B&B spokesperson. In a statement to Eater, B&B said that while the company has had sexual harassment training and policies for more than 10 years, it will now also enlist an independent, outside corporate investigations firm for any staffers wishing to make claims against owners of the restaurants.

“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’s statement reads in part. “Mr. Batali and we have agreed that he will step away from the company’s operations, including the restaurants, and has already done so.”

[From Eater]

While Batali was an employee at ABC with The Chew, he’s also the head of his own restaurant empire and he is “the boss.” Imagine being the HR person who has to go to the boss and say “you can’t grope and harass women constantly, you need sexual harassment prevention training.” Yeah… and people wonder how these prominent, powerful men get away with it for so long.

Eataly L.A. Grand Opening

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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52 Responses to “Mario Batali ‘steps away’ from ‘The Chew’ following allegations of harassment”

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  1. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Mario Batali is and always was trash and this doesn’t surprise me in the least. He has a HORRIBLE reputation for how he treats his employees and was sued for skimming tips from his waitstaff and not paying them overtime. He even spoke out AGAINST the minimum wage increase in NYC. He’s garbage.

    • Megan says:

      F&cking hell! Now I can’t go to Eataly!!! This is an extra crappy Monday.

    • Bridget says:

      Welcome to the restaurant world in general. Sketchy accounting, managers who try to take a cut of tips, additional non-overtime hours – I could make the list longer. We have a close friend who worked for a very high profile, high end chef who has a reputation for starting chef’s careers in our city. And who also was apparently using one restaurant’s funds to finance her new one, causing all of the current employees paychecks to bounce. Repeatedly. People literally just stopped showing up to work over time because they weren’t being paid, until the day they got there and it was just closed. And the worst part? This kind of stuff is just par for the course in the restaurant world.

    • kimbers says:

      never understood why customers supplement waitstaff wages. pay your friggn staff a livable wage. tips are icing not the flour in a cake. for a successful person to steal from his staff? disgusting.

    • AnnaKist says:

      He spoke out AGAINST a minimum wage rise!? In other words, he’d pay even less than the current minimum wage if he could get away with it. What an utter prïck. Thank goodness we have good industrial relations laws. That didn’t stop a couple of our clebrity chefs trying to rip off their staff, though. Mongrels. And this one is a predator as well. Weed them all out. Show no mercy.

    • magnoliarose says:

      His wife is the daughter of the founders of Coach from NYC, Susan Cahn. I don’t know why she stayed with him, he has a bad rep, but most chefs act like maniacs in the kitchen. Babbo is good, but I haven’t been in there in years.
      If you want to go to a good market in New York for Italian items Eataly is hard to beat however there are some nice old family places around the city that I like too. When I am visiting my grandmother on the Upper E side, there is Citarella that has excellent seafood but loads of other goodies. Excellent lox or so says the meat eaters in my life. If it makes anyone feel better, he is not the sole owner, and he has partners. I get our pasta there sometimes, but there are other choices.
      I don’t eat in his restaurants, and now it is a guarantee.

  2. aims says:

    I absolutely believe these women. He’s a total dirtbag. Awhile back he and his partners were sued by their employees for taking their tips. He has no moral compass at all. When I heard about the tips, I had a bad impression of him, now he makes me want to throw up.

  3. T.Fanty says:

    To be honest, my first thought was “ummmm, all of them, probably?” The professional kitchen is not a female-friendly environment.

  4. WinchesterGirl says:

    “They ‘match-up’ with ways he has behaved?” What an odd choice of words

  5. Loopy says:

    At this point has no woman been sexually harassed or assaulted….imagine what it’s like in other countries.

  6. anniefannie says:

    I’ve never been a fan, he’s so pretentious! I think this will be a relief to the other chefs on Chew,
    I’ve caught them smirking and side eyeing him for years.
    As for the allegations, before reading I thought men would be involved ( yes I know he’s married but I get a vibe )

  7. Sky says:

    I wonder how Gwyneth Paltrow feels about this. Mario and Gwen are really close friends.

  8. Bishg says:

    Oh my,
    this was almost exactly predicted by a subplot in the second season of Master of None:
    Dev ends up shooting a cooking show with a famous and celebrated chef (played by the great Bobby Cannavale) and right before the premiere, the chef is exposed as a major creep and sexual harasser.
    I wonder if this is more than just a coincidence.

  9. Kitten says:

    Not surprising. I used to occasionally watch The Chew at the gym and he was always smarmy/creepy to the female hosts as well as the guests.

  10. Canadiangirl says:

    I wonder if Gwen will make a statement? She is very good friends with him.

  11. lucy2 says:

    I don’t know much about him, but yet again, am not surprised. At least he owned up to it and didn’t pull a “that’s not how I remember it” but it’s still so disgusting.

    I was with a bunch of women friends over the weekend and we started talking about all this. Oh God, the stories. My heart broke for more than a few of them, and we all had stories of some level.

  12. Bridget says:

    A couple of things.

    I wouldn’t describe Mario Batali as “of the gross looking Italian food”. Disregarding him personally, he is one of the great American chefs. But if you’re used to just fettuccini Alfredo then his food isn’t going to be for you.

    But none of this shocks me. Restaurants are a TOUGH place for women. They’re incredibly male dominated and a dude-bro culture permeates it. Not to mention the all-around attitude of stunted emotional growth (ie when you spend every night partying after your shift is done), it can be a truly toxic work environment. The restaurant industry (along with tech) are hotbeds of harassment and assault. It’s sad that apparently Batali is one of them, but not surprising knowing how pervasive this kind of stuff is in the industry.

    And there are so many hosts on The Chew I totally forgot that Batali was even on it. I’m just here for Carla Hall anyway.

  13. Faithmobile says:

    I grew up working in the the restaurant industry in Northern California and am proud to say that I have never witnessed this behavior. It’s a top down industry, meaning that abuse only thrives when the top allows it. I remember reading Bourdain’s first book and being shocked at how different my experience was. Yes, it’s a male dominated field, but working in an already woke area went a long way to making my experience very different than NYC in the 90s. What I’m trying to say is that a lot of us take our work seriously and didn’t party after every shift nor did we tolerate the old guard’s belligerent unprofessional behavior.

  14. Amaria says:

    I’m waiting for Goop’s take on this. She’s been friends with him for years.

  15. lyla says:

    tom colicchio tweeted that no one should be surprised.

  16. Deeanna says:

    Skeevy. Yep, that’s the word. And it even came through on the TV.

  17. Michelle Scott says:

    At least he hasn’t denied it, or provided a half-assed response – I found his apology to be sincere and appropriate. It just sucks it’s him and not Fieri.

  18. Lisa says:

    Yup, agreed..Batali is a creep but I love his restaurants.

    As an Italian I consider him as bringing true Italian cuisine to America.