Mario Batali steps away from restaurant empire following sexual misconduct allegations

The celebrity chef apologized, saying the allegations "match up" with how he has acted.

Boston, MA - 11/29/16 -  Celebrity chef Mario Batali speaks with a reporter at Eataly food court and grocery store in the Prudential Center.  (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter:  (Duggan Arnett)  Topic: (live_eataly_photos)
Celebrity chef Mario Batali at Eataly Boston in the Prudential Center. –Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Mario Batali, the celebrity chef behind an international food and restaurant empire that includes the Back Bay’s Eataly Boston and the Seaport’s Babbo Pizzeria, is stepping away from the day-to-day operations of his businesses after multiple sexual misconduct allegations.

Food website Eater spoke with four women who accused Batali of inappropriate touching. The allegations, which reportedly span at least two decades, range from Batali grabbing a woman’s breasts with his bare hands to grabbing a woman from behind and holding her tightly to his body.

Batali issued a statement to Eater in which he apologized for his actions and said the allegations “match up with ways” he has acted.

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.

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.

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.

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In an emailed statement, Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group confirmed that Batali had stepped away from the company’s operations.

We take these allegations very seriously. 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.

Mr. Batali and we have agreed that he will step away from the company’s operations, including the restaurants, and he has already done so. Our restaurants thrive because of the chefs, kitchen staff, and front-of-the-house teams who are dedicated to delivering great food and service. We are confident that they will continue working hard for our guests as they have done for years.

In an emailed statement, Eataly said they endorsed Batali stepping away from active involvement with the company.

The allegations that surfaced this morning concerning Mario Batali’s behavior towards women were extremely troubling to us. We fully support Mr. Batali’s decision to step away from any active involvement with Eataly. Sexual harassment of any kind towards anyone in any form is unacceptable and Eataly cares deeply about creating a safe and comfortable environment for all our employees and customers, free of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Batali is also a co-host of ABC’s daytime talk and cooking show The Chew. According to Eater, ABC has asked Batali to step away from his hosting duties while it reviews the allegations.

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