US chef Mario Batali has stepped away from his restaurant group after the chef was accused of sexual misconduct by four women.

Three out of four women worked for Batali, with the allegations spanning two decades.

One woman recalled an incident where Batali offered to employ her as a chef and “pay her double” before he touched her breasts after someone bumped her wine glass, spilling it over her shirt, reports Eater. “He just went to town and I was so shocked,” she says. “Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.”

A former employee claims Batali repeatedly “grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against his body”; another alleges the chef “compelled her to straddle him” and the third has alleged Batali grabbed her breasts at a party.

According to Eater, the chef was reprimanded for inappropriate behavior as little as two months ago.

His company, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, has confirmed they received a formal complaint from an employee regarding Batali’s inappropriate actions.

B&B will now employ an independent outside corporate investigations firm for staff who wish to make claims against owners of the restaurants.

Batali has addressed the allegations in a statement to Eater and confirmed he will remove himself from the day-to-day operations of the group.

“I apologise 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.

“I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses.”

Batali’s world has quickly begun to crumble. ABC’s The Chew requested the chef and previous co-host leave the show and the Food Network’s plans of a Molto Mario revival have been put on hold.

Global Italian marketplace Eataly has also pulled Batali’s products (books, sauces, pastas, olive oils, and vinegars) from the shelves and released a statement, confirming the move “is consistent with Mario Batali not being actively involved with Eataly”.

Image credit: Eater


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