Mario Batali has taken a leave from co-hosting ABC’s “The Chew” amidst allegations of sexual harassment.
The Orlando Sentinel reported Monday that four women, all unnamed, have accused Batali of sexual harassment. Not only has he been put on leave from “The Chew,” but Food Network has also put plans to relaunch his show, “Molto Mario,” next year on hold.
One woman described two instances where Batali made unwelcomed and inappropriate physical contact with her with the others alleged he grabbed parts of their bodies at industry events. Three of the women worked for him while the fourth worked in the industry but not for him directly.
In the aftermath, Batali has stepped away from operations of his empire of 26 restaurants worldwide. He made a statement of apology to Eater which reads:
“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.”
A spokesperson for ABC issued a statement saying “We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention. 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.”
The Food Network also released a statement saying “Food Network takes matters like this very seriously and we are putting relaunch plans for ‘Molto Mario’ on hold.”
This is not the first harassment suit filed where Batali’s name has come up, although he was not directly accused in any other instance.
Mario Batali is one of the most well-know chef’s in America. He has been involved with several shows on the Food Network, has published 11 cookbooks and has a charitable foundation in his name. Named Outstanding Chef in 2005 by The James Beard Foundation, Batali is a partner in the Italian market and restaurant company Eataly USA, which has five U.S. locations.