Mario Batali is the latest celebrity to get caught in the crosshairs of the #MeToo movement.
The celebrity chef says he will step away from his restaurant chain after four women have come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. ABC has also reportedly asked him to take leave from The Chew, the daytime show he has hosted since 2012, a spokesperson told Eater, which broke the news of the accusations,.
Batali, in a statement to Eater did not deny the claims, saying they “match up with ways I have acted.”
Three of the women worked with Batali at his Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, says Eater. All of them accuse him of making unwanted physical advances (e.g. grabbing their breasts and buttocks).
“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,” Batali told Eater. “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.”
Batali’s restaurant empire, which includes establishments such as Eataly, Otto Pizzeria, and Babbo, is a national force. In 2012, it had a reported $250 million in annual revenue. He got his start on Food Network’s Molto Mario, eventually becoming one of the stars of Iron Chef. Beyond his hosting duties on The Chew and Vice TV’s Moltissimo, he has distributed a number of cookbooks and food products.
In a statement, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, confirmed Batali had stepped away and reiterated its commitment to protecting employees.
“We take these allegations very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “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 had systematic policies and training about sexual harassment for over 10 years, including a detailed procedure for employees to report complaints to senior management. … We have decided to take a further step beyond our current policies and practices to ensure all employees feel comfortable and empowered to report issues. If employees have claims they want to make against any corporate officers or owners specifically, they may now contact the outside corporate investigations firm T&M Protection Resources, LLC, who has discretion to independently investigate complaints and report to outside counsel.”