Celebrity chef Mario Batali has taken a leave of absence from his restaurant company and co-hosting duties on ABC’s The Chew following accusations of sexual misconduct by at least four women. According to Eater, which conducted dozens of interviews with the accusers, witnesses and other knowledgeable parties, Batali’s behavior “spans at least two decades,” and the restauranter isn’t denying the accusations either.
One of the four women Eater spoke with recalled meeting Batali at a New Orleans wine auction 10 years ago, when she was a young chef looking to break into the business. She described him as intoxicated and “creepy,” and after he haphazardly offered her a job worth “double” what she was then making, Batali assaulted her:
Moments later, someone bumped her glass, spilling wine all over her chest and down her scooped-neck shirt. She alleges that Batali began rubbing her breasts with his bare hands while saying something like, “Let me help you with that,” as he groped her chest. “He just went to town, and I was so shocked,” the chef says. “Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.”
In a statement to Eater, Batali confirmed the stories of his anonymous accusers and revealed he would be stepping away from his restaurant business for the time being:
“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.”
Late Sunday night, fellow celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain — himself an outspoken proponent of women who’ve come out against sexual assault and harassment by men — seemingly predicted Monday morning’s Batali news in a series of tweets. “Monday, I’m afraid, isn’t going to get any better,” he wrote. “Trust me. Monday is really gonna suck.”