Chef and restaurateur Mario Batali is the latest name on the list of industry leaders accused of sexual misconduct.
According to Eater, the complaints began two months ago, when an employee accused him of inappropriate behavior. Since then, three other women have come forward about with similar complaints. The earliest instance dates back to two decades ago when Batali allegedly rubbed a woman's breasts with his bare hands after someone spilled a drink on her. At the time, he had claimed he was helping her.
Batali has not denied the allegations. He says they “match up” with ways he has behaved. He has announced he will be taking a break from daily operations in the company he co-owns together with Joe Bastianich.
"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," Batali said in a statement to Eater. "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."
Batali's business partner Bastianich said in a statement, “Right now I’m just focused on ensuring that our more than 1,000 employees continue to have a safe and positive work environment."
Another leader in the food industry, Anthony Bourdain, took to Twitter to issue an informal statement about the news. Bourdain has been very vocal about sexual harassment, and has spoken up about it happening in the restaurant industry.
It’s Batali. And it’s bad .— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) December 11, 2017
Last month, Bourdain made statements about celebrity chef John Besh, whom he claims had allowed an environment of sexual misconduct in the Besh Restaurant Group.
"I don’t know the facts of the case or anything with the Besh company, but the fact that it’s a company this size and that there was not a credible avenue, no trustworthy credible office or institution in this big company for women to report or to complain with any confidence that their complaints would be addressed, this is, it’s an indictment of the system," he told Slate.