Celebrity chef Mario Batali is stepping back from his restaurant empire after allegations of groping and inappropriate sexual conduct

Getty Images / Mark Von HoldenMario Batali.
  • The food and dining website Eater says Mario Batali is “stepping away” from his restaurant empire after multiple women accused the celebrity chef of inappropriate behaviour.
  • Eater published a bombshell report on Monday, with women recounting instances of groping, inappropriate comments, and sexual harassment while working for the chef.
  • Batali did not deny the allegations.

The celebrity chef Mario Batali has stepped back from running his restaurant empire after multiple allegations of groping and sexual misconduct.

Vox Media’s food and dining website, Eater, reported on Monday that four women had shared stories of Batali touching them inappropriately. Batali’s pattern of inappropriate behaviour spanned over two decades, according to Eater.

Mario BataliKen Goodman

One woman in the restaurant industry told Eater that when she met Batali about 10 years ago, someone bumped her glass, causing her to spill wine on her shirt. Batali, she said, “began rubbing her breasts with his bare hands while saying something like, ‘Let me help you with that,’ as he groped her chest.”

Sources told Eater that Batali had a history of inappropriate comments about women’s bodies and aggressive sexual behaviour in and out of the kitchen they described as an open secret in parts of the restaurant world.

In the 2006 book “Heat,” Bill Buford wrote that Batali once told a female server at one of his restaurants: “It’s not fair I have this view all to myself when you bend over. For dessert, would you take off your blouse for the others?”

Tom Colicchio, another celebrity chef with restaurants in New York City, tweeted Monday morning that “no one should be surprised” by the bombshell report.

Batali rose to prominence as a chef in New York City in the 1990s. Known for his Italian-inspired cooking and orange Crocs, he became a familiar face outside the New York restaurant scene thanks to his Food Network show “Molto Mario” as well as appearances on “Iron Chef” and, most recently, as a cohost on ABC’s “The Chew.”

The chef did not deny the allegations and told Eater he was “stepping away” from the day-to-day operations of his businesses, though he did not say for how long. As the cofounder of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, that means taking a step back from more than two dozen restaurants, including Babbo, Del Posto, and Eataly. ABC told Eater that Batali had been asked to step away from “The Chew” as it reviewed allegations against the chef.

“We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behaviour,” Batali told Eater. “I won’t make that mistake again. I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there.”

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