Celebrity chef and TV personality Mario Batali is walking away from his business and media empire because of allegations of sexual harassment made against him. According to an article published Monday by Eater.com, four women have accused Batali of inappropriate behavior over the last two decades.
As a result, Batali has chosen to cease running day-to-day operations of his business, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, which owns or operates more than two dozen restaurants worldwide. ABC’s The Chew, a show he co-hosts, has also asked Batali to step away from the show. Batali’s hit Food Network show Molto Mario has also been put on hold while the allegations are investigated further.
The most recent accusation came from an employee of Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group in October. The company says that was the first formal complaint made against Batali, who was instructed to undergo training on the company’s policies regarding sexual harassment.
The allegations involve inappropriate touching, body rubbing, and groping by Batali dating back as far as the 1990’s.
“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” Batali said in a statement. “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.
“The 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.”
Batali will remain a co-owner of Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group but says he will take time away from the business in order to regain the “respect and trust” of the company’s partners and employees, as well as his fans.
“He gets wasted, he’s arrogant, and he acts like he’s God’s gift to women,” one of the accusers said of Batali. “This is still your industry, you’re a leader in this industry — if you behave this way, what kind of example are you setting?”