Chef Mario Batali cuts ties with restaurants after abuse allegations

Mario Batali
Mario Batali

NEW YORK • Celebrity chef and former television star Mario Batali sold his stakes in his American restaurants on Wednesday, after accusations of sexual harassment caused him to be fired from a television cooking show and prompted a police investigation.

Batali has sold his shares in the 16-restaurant operation, including Babbo and Del Posto in New York, to former partners Tanya Bastianich Manuali and her brother, Joe Bastianich, he said.

"I have reached an agreement with Joe and no longer have any stake in the restaurants we built together. I wish him the best of luck in the future," Batali said in a statement from his representative Risa Heller.

Batali, 58, has previously admitted and apologised for sexually harassing women, but denied charges that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2005.

Several famous chefs and restaurateurs have recently been accused of sexual harassment, but Batali is the first to surrender all his restaurants.

At its peak, the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group encompassed dozens of restaurants and food businesses in the United States, Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Batali's charisma and culinary flair turned him into a restaurant executive, television star, author and one of the world's most recognisable chefs.

He premiered on Food Network in 1997 on the show Molto Mario and, in 2011, helped launch The Chew on ABC.

He is in the process of selling a minority stake in Eataly USA, a luxury marketplace with six locations in the US, Eataly spokesman Chris Giglio said in a statement.

The New York Police Department launched an investigation after CBS' 60 Minutes reported in May last year that Batali drugged and sexually assaulted an employee in 2005. At the time, he denied the report.

The police in January closed their investigation because detectives could not find enough evidence and the incident was past the state's statute of limitations, according to reports by local media.

In December 2017, ABC Television Network fired Batali from its daytime cooking show The Chew after four unnamed women accused him of sexual misconduct that they said spanned at least two decades.

The Food Network had also cancelled plans to relaunch Molto Mario.

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2019, with the headline 'Chef Mario Batali cuts ties with restaurants after abuse allegations'. Print Edition | Subscribe