Mario Batali: How Celebrity Chefs Reacted to the Sexual Misconduct Allegations
After sexual misconduct allegations against celebrity chef Mario Batali were published in Eater, they sent shockwaves through the restaurant industry. Meanwhile, the former Chew co-host was fired from the show, stepped down from several of his businesses, and is now facing a criminal investigation.
Some of Batali’s fellow celebrity chefs have sharing their reactions to the allegations, expressing heartbreak but not necessarily surprise. They’re also in agreement about the need for an end to this kind of behavior, which is a widespread issue in kitchens across the country.
Here’s a closer look at how various celebrity chefs reacted to the Batali allegations.
1. Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain was on top of the Batali story, tweeting about the article just 10 minutes after it was published and saying “it’s bad.” He seemed to be aware this was coming, having tweeted on Sunday, “Trust me. Monday is really gonna suck.”
In subsequent tweets, Bourdain suggested he has been aware of this behavior. However, he said that he’s been “sitting on stories that were not mine to tell.” Still, he admitted he feels sick and guilty he hadn’t done anything. In another tweet, he said he only started hearing rumors about Batali a few weeks ago.
Bourdain expanded upon his guilty feeling in a Medium post, saying, “To the extent which my work in Kitchen Confidential celebrated or prolonged a culture that allowed the kind of grotesque behaviors we’re hearing about all too frequently is something I think about daily, with real remorse.”
2. Tom Colicchio
Like Bourdain, Tom Colicchio made clear that he’s heard the rumors about Batali, saying, “No one should be surprised.” When asked why he didn’t do something earlier, Colicchio said he was never a witness to the behavior and that rumor and innuendo are not facts. “These stories are not mine to tell,” he added.
Colicchio had previously spoken up about sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, publishing an open letter to male chefs in early November, which became even more relevant after the Batali allegations. In it, he wrote:
This isn’t just a matter of a few bad eggs and we all know it. For every John Besh splashed across Page Six, we can assume hundreds, if not thousands, more with kitchens just like the ones his female employees described. Something’s broken here.
3. Eric Ripert
Eric Ripert reacted to the Batali news with a general statement about sexual harassment being unacceptable. Ripert did not mention Batali by name but clearly posted the statement in response to Eater’s story.
In his statement, Ripert said that he has never tolerated abusive behavior in his restaurant and that “higher moral standards should be the rule and not the exception.”
4. Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall, and Michael Symon
Batali was formerly a co-host on ABC’s The Chew, a daytime cooking and talk show. Following the allegations, ABC asked Batali to step aside from the show, and his co-hosts addressed the situation on the air.
The three co-hosts took turns reading a very brief statement at the top of the show before getting into a regular episode. They said:
Yesterday, allegations of past improper behavior surfaced about our own Mario Batali, and ABC asked him to step away from the show while those allegations are reviewed. We want you to know we take these matters very seriously and are committed to a safe work environment. Our commitment to our viewers remains the same: to deliver the entertaining show that you’ve come to expect.
5. Melissa King
Top Chef‘s Melissa King reacted to the Batali allegations on Instagram, saying that the news did not surprise her. She noted that she had respected Batali, but she was not surprised because sexual harassment is a pervasive issue in the restaurant industry.
King added, “As female chefs, we are told pervy looks and dirty jokes were ‘just how the industry is’ and to be expected in a male dominated industry. It’s unacceptable for any person to feel unsafe, victimized, and demeaned in any setting.”
6. Nancy Silverton
Nancy Silverton is not very active on social media, but Eater reached out to her to get her thoughts on the Batali allegations. Silverton herself has partnered with Batali on her restaurants.
In a statement, she said that Batali has been a “mentor, partner, and friend” for years, but that he is “a man with boundless bravado and a man with flaws.” She also said that sexual harassment of any kind of unacceptable and that all of her restaurants are led by women.
Finally, she said she has trained her staff on how to file complaints about sexual harassment and noted that Batali has stepped aside from her restaurants.
7. David Chang
A day after the Batali story broke, David Chang, a friend of Batali’s, reacted on Twitter by simply saying, “Disbelief. Heartbreak. Anger. Sadness. Repeat.”
Eater reached out to Chang for a more detailed statement, and he provided one. He said the news saddened him and that Batali is a friend who has helped him throughout his career. However, he said that there is no way to condone his actions.
“Our industry is broken, and we must all work towards being better,” Chang said. “…These reports underscore the urgent need to change the culture of our kitchens and workplaces.”
8. Dominique Crenn
Dominique Crenn reacted to the allegations on Instagram by saying that she, too, has been sexually harassed. She wrote, “I am a woman, and i have been Harassed. Sexual harassment is damaging in level that perhaps people do not understand. I invite my industry and others industries to not be afraid of speaking out about it.”
She also noted that sexual harassment has been an issue for a long time but that members of her industry must not be afraid to speak about it. She capped her post off with “#MeToo.”
9. Matty Matheson
On Twitter, Matty Matheson did not seem particularly surprised about the allegations. He said that “Batali sucks” and that he’s just another dark horse being brought to life. In response to a question on Twitter, Matheson said that while he doesn’t have any restaurants right now, when he opens one, one of his biggest responsibilities will be to uphold a safe workplace.
In another tweet a day later, Matheson said that he feels “embarrassed and ashamed” and that he loves “how brave these women are to come out and smash this industry wide open.”
10. Alex Stupak
Alex Stupak reacted to the Batali news with some general thoughts on how the restaurant industry needs to be reformed. He said chefs need to stop thinking of their employees as “members of some Jabba the Hutt harem for you to pick on.” He also said that chefs shouldn’t drink so much in front of people that are looking up to them.
Next, Stupak noted, “If you are powerful enough to create and influence a work paradigm, why not have it be one that your own wife and/or daughter are deserving of?” Finally, he concluded, “My wife is a Chef of 17 years. All this wannabe rockstar bad boy back stage bullsh*t coming to an end is special for me. Quiver like cowards. Back peddle and devour yourself.”
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