Mario Batali—one of the most famous chefs in the world and the heart of the 24-restaurant, 1,000-employee Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group—announced today that he is stepping down from the empire he has built since the mid-1990s after an investigation by Eater laid out widespread, long-term complaints of workplace groping including one incident in which "he compelled [a female employee] to straddle him."
Batali was served his first-ever formal sexual harassment complaint in October and was sent to mandatory training as a resolution. Also in October, the New York Times published an investigation into sexual harassment and assault complaints about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein that has effectively ended his career and any social standing he had. That Times story triggered a seismic shattering of silence that has similarly taken down Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons, Garrison Keiller, James Toback, the heads of NPR and Amazon television, and three sitting members of Congress, including Sen. Al Franken. This weekend, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that even President Donald Trump's accusers "should be heard."
ABC, which runs Batali's prominent food talk show, has put the chef on leave until it concludes its own internal investigation of his workplace behavior.
For his part, Batali did not deny the accusations laid out by the Eater investigation.
"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," he told Eater. "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."