Celebrity Chef Mario Batali "Stepping Away" Following Sexual Harassment Allegations

[Content Note: Descriptions of sexual harassment and/or assault at link.]

Mario Batali, a celebrity chef with his own food empire, who is also a television star and famously besties with Gwyneth Paltrow, is stepping away from all his various business enterprises after multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

Irene Plagianos and Kitty Greenwald at Eater report:
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. According to a spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group — the restaurant-management services company that provides support to around 24 restaurants owned by, among others, Batali and Joe Bastianich — in October 2017, a B&B restaurant employee officially reported inappropriate behavior by Batali to the company. 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. 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."
His apology statement (I really wonder who is getting rich writing these things) goes on to say how he knows he disappointed people and he knows he has to work to regain people's trust and he's going to "spend the next period of time trying to do that."

It all adds up to someone who wants to sound aware and contrite before he disappears for whatever length of time seems like he could have gotten his shit together, before he resumes his lucrative career that grants him abundant access to women over whom he wields power.

Batali is an owner of his restaurants. He can't just be fired. Whether the other owners force him out remains to be seen, I guess, but I suspect they are inclined to try to wait it out, just like he will.

Every day, there are more people speaking about about powerful men who have engaged in sexual harassment and assault. And every day, there are more monied interests invested in those powerful men who can't wait for the backlash to begin in earnest, and for public sympathy to return to men who are accused.

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