Famed chef Mario Batali is stepping away from his businesses amid newly surfaced allegations of sexual misconduct.
On the heels of an Eater report detailing accounts from several anonymous women who claim various inappropriate behavior by Batali, the 57-year-old Culinary Hall of Fame inductee has issued an apology and announced his leave from his businesses.
"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. 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," he said in a statement to E! News.
"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. We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior. 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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As his statement concluded, "I know my actions have disappointed many people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team. The failures are mine alone. To the people who have been at my side during this time – my family, my partners, my employees, my friends, my fans—I am grateful for your support and hopeful that I can regain your respect and trust. I will spend the next period of time trying to do that."
In addition to stepping away from his restaurants, the star has also been asked by ABC to leave The Chew while the network reviews the allegations made against the co-host. Batali has appeared on the show since 2011.
"We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention," an ABC spokesperson told E! News in a statement. "ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct."
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In Eater's report, the anonymous women made a series of allegations against Batali, including claims that he grabbed a woman's breasts and repeatedly grabbed one of the women, a former server at a Pó, a restaurant where the chef previously worked, from behind over the course of two years. According to Eater, the sources' claims of Batali's alleged inappropriate behavior spanned two decades.
The server described the grabs from behind "like a linebacker, like a disgusting bear hug" to Eater. "This wasn't just some dirty jokes, this was mean, this was about asserting power," the server told the website. "He is awful."
One former employee claimed he squeezed her butt inside a restaurant while another alleged he grabbed both of her breasts while seemingly drunk at an industry party in 2011. An anonymous woman told Eater she saw "a lot of gray-area affection with women," like "a lot of subliminal dissection of women's bodies, telling women their asses looked good, remarking on boobs."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group told Eater that a restaurant employee recently reported inappropriate behavior by Batali to the company in October. As a result, he was reprimanded and required to undergo training, per Eater's report. The hospitality group also confirmed to Eater that they are enlisting an independent investigations firm for any additional claims.
"We take these allegations very seriously," B&B said in a statement to Eater. "We pride ourselves on being a workplace for our employees where they can grow and deliver great service with equal opportunity and free from any discrimination. We have strong policies and practices in place that address sexual harassment. We train employees in these policies and we enforce them, up to and including termination."