One female chef who has never worked for him claimed to the publication that about 10 years ago, the celebrity chef rubbed her breasts with his bare hands at an event after she spilled wine on her shirt when someone bumped into her. “He just went to town, and I was so shocked,” she told Eater. “Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.”
According to Eater, three of the women had worked for Batali, who owns numerous restaurants. One of them claimed that he grabbed her breasts at a party after she stopped working for him, a second alleged he groped her, and a third told the site that Batali repeatedly grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against him.
Eater also reports that Batali, 57, was reprimanded in October after an employee of his Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, which is co-owned by Joe Bastianich, officially complained about alleged inappropriate behavior.
“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” Batali said in a statement to Eater. He added that while he doesn’t know who the individuals are, he admitted that the behavior matches how he has 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,” he continued. “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.”
Batali, who won an Emmy for cohosting ABC’s The Chew, is also stepping away from the program. “We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” said a spokesperson for the network. “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.”