Mario Batali ( (Image: YouTube video screen grab)

If you thought you had heard the last from disgraced former chef Mario Batali, think again. On Oct. 20, the portly cook broached his silence on Instagram for the first time since 1917, hinting at the possibility that he would return from the career-dead.

Yesterday, the New York Post reported that he’s officially “ba-a-ack!” planning “a series of virtual cooking events in early December.” The first of his online events, which are being served up under the name “Molto a Casa,” will air Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. ET.

Batali, for the uninitiated, was accused of sexual assault suits by a former female employee in 2017. He released a statement to Eater, in which he acknowledged having “mistreated and hurt” people in ways that “match up with ways I have acted.” Around the same time, he announced that he was “taking a leave of absence” from his restaurant empire and hosting duties on ABC’s “The Chew” in light of accusations of sexual harassment by four women. He was subsequently booted from the hospitality group he had created with Joe Bastianich and disappeared, it seemed, into obscurity.

But that was then, and this is now. And now Batali has proclaimed his return, and some industry veterans have shown a willingness to forgive and forget. New York’s De Gustibus Cooking School wrote in response to Batali’s Instagram post that they “would be honored to have” Batali back. And Gus Avila, founder of the nationally known Guerilla Tacos, responded with a series of celebratory “thumbs up” emojis.

Can a leopard change its spots? We’ll see.

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