Celebrity chef Mike Isabella accused of sexual harassment

Celebrity chef Mike Isabella at Tysons Galleria mall in the US in 2015.
Celebrity chef Mike Isabella at Tysons Galleria mall in the US in 2015.PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST
Chloe Caras, a former top manager for Mike Isabella, has filed a lawsuit accusing the celebrity chef of sexual harassment.
Chloe Caras, a former top manager for Mike Isabella, has filed a lawsuit accusing the celebrity chef of sexual harassment. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON (WP) - Mike Isabella was sued on Monday by a former top manager who claims that the celebrity chef and his partners repeatedly sexually harassed her in the workplace.

The lawsuit from Ms Chloe Caras seeks US$4 million (S$5.3 million) in damages from the Top Chef alumnus, his company and four of his business partners.

She alleges that Isabella and his partners commented on the size of her buttocks and touched her without permission.

"Women generally do not make it into the higher management ranks of Mr Isabella's establishments and when Ms Caras did, she became the target of extraordinary sex-based hostility and abuse," the lawsuit said.

Isabella in response said the company does not tolerate sexual harassment.

Ms Caras said she reached her breaking point on the night of Dec 5 when she was sitting in a booth with Isabella just before the launch of the Isabella Eatery in McLean, Virginia, when a male sous chef asked to join them.

"Mr Isabella had consumed numerous drinks throughout the day and appeared visibly intoxicated," the lawsuit claims. Ms Caras said Isabella replied: "If you sleep with Chloe, you can. I told him to stop, and he immediately got angry."

Then he fired her, she said in the lawsuit.

Two male chefs who worked for Mike Isabella Concepts said they witnessed Isabella yelling at Ms Caras on the night she said she was dismissed.