Sexual harassment sadly is a hot topic these days, as one after another celebrity or politician finds himself in the spotlight. In October I reported that celebrity Chef John Besh had been forced out of the restaurant group that bears his name after 25 employees leveled accusations of sexual misconduct against him.
Now an even bigger fish has been caught up in the net of scandal. A week after lecturing his food-industry peers on the importance of running “a workplace free of fear, that harbors an excellent feeling of the potential for collaboration and creativity,” superstar Mario Batali has announced he is “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.
According to The Washington Post:
One woman described two instances where Batali made inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact with her, while the others alleged that Batali groped their breasts and buttocks at industry parties. Three of them worked for him, while the fourth has not but works in the industry.
Batali released a statement to Eater, which broke the story, in which he said:
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.
Batali is co-owner of 26 restaurants worldwide, a role he intends to retain.