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If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy. About 10 years ago, at the after-party for a wine auction in New Orleans, a woman in her 20s walked up to Mario Batali to introduce herself. As a chef, she was excited to meet one of the most revered figures in the restaurant industry. The chef is one of four women who allege that Batali touched them inappropriately in a pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades. Three of the women worked for Batali in some capacity during their careers.
One former employee alleges that over the course of two years, he repeatedly grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against his body. Another former employee alleges that he groped her and that, in a separate incident, he compelled her to straddle him; another alleges that he grabbed her breasts at a party, though she no longer worked for him at the time. The woman whose allegations are described above has never worked for Batali, though she works in the restaurant industry. Batali was reprimanded for inappropriate behavior in the workplace as recently as two months ago.
It was the first formal complaint about Batali, who was reprimanded and required to undergo training, according to the company. 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. 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. For this reason, I am going sex mario 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 want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there. 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. 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. 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. Each of the women who spoke to Eater asked to remain anonymous in part for fear of retaliation — Sex mario, a celebrated and powerful chef, holds enormous sway in the restaurant world and beyond.
Eater is granting them anonymity but has corroborated their stories with friends, family members, or colleagues who were informed of the incidents, as well as with publicly available information. Many of the people who spoke with Eater said they were afraid of retribution for speaking out. And the level of vindictiveness is very chilling.
So, it never occurred to me to share tales out of school. The multiple accusations of inappropriate touching and other misconduct emerged from an Eater investigation that included interviews with dozens of industry professionals who have had interactions with the chef, including nearly three dozen current and former Batali employees.
Batali is also a minority shareholder in the Italian-market chain Eataly USA, which has six locations across the country. He also founded education and empowerment nonprofit and is active in REDthe nonprofit founded by celebrities Bono and Bobby Shriver.
People Eater spoke to within the industry often describe him as a friendly, charming, professional, supportive, and frequently generous person. But his affable persona belies another, more crude reputation, according to dozens of interviews. Though Crane does not recall any specific details, and was not in the kitchen to personally witness the incidents, he said that he was told by several female staffers that Batali had grabbed them from behind, consistently made a variety of sexual comments, and engaged in behavior like snapping bra straps. Crane said that because they were partners in the restaurant, he ultimately did not have the power to fire Batali.
Batali, through a spokesperson, denied that Crane ever confronted him. In hours of interviews with Eater, she described nearly two years of inappropriate behavior. Sex mario grabbing would often occur while they were alone in a cramped passageway between the dining room and the kitchen, she alleged. When Crane asked Batali to stop, Batali would become more aggressive, the server alleged; some female staff eventually started asking Crane to not confront Batali with their complaints, she added.
Crane confirmed that after some women would complain, they would ask him not to confront Batali because he would only be more aggressive toward them. He is awful. The first incident allegedly took place soon after she started her job.
In a second incident that took place about sex mario years later, she alleges that while working next to Batali in a small, boxed-in space, he was seated in such a way that he blocked her exit. When she had to get up, he refused to move — leaving her no choice but to straddle him in order to leave the space.
According to the woman, she told Batali that she needed to go to the bathroom. Yet another woman who worked for Batali for about a year in the late aughts alleges that he lunged at her and grabbed her breasts during an industry party ina few years after she stopped sex mario for him. At the party, she recalled that Batali appeared drunk, and she became concerned for his safety when she spotted him on a balcony standing slumped over.
Though at the time, she no longer worked for Batali, she had worked for him a few years prior and said she believed they shared some mutual respect. The chef who alleged being groped at an industry party in New Orleans about 10 years ago, as described earlier, said she remains appalled by his behavior. In addition to the allegations of improper physical contact, several sources said that Batali has a reputation for inappropriately using sexual innuendo in workplace conversation. And that flirting came in the form of talking and sitting really close.
But according to other interviews, his inappropriate behavior happened at work, too. For dessert, would you take off your blouse for the others? Eater granted him anonymity, as he is still employed by the company and fears losing his job. The former employee who alleged having her breasts grabbed described working for Batali as frequently professional.
These allegations come as dozens of prominent and powerful men have been toppled by accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.
In the restaurant industry — notorious for its boys-club culture — chef John Besh was brought down by allegations of rampant sexual harassment in his restaurants, and former Jean-Georges pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini has been accused of sexual harassment by four women. A nyone with information about alleged misconduct sex mario the restaurant world can contact Eater at tips eater.
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Mario Batali Steps Away From Restaurant Empire Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations