Here’s another one to add to 2017’s ever-growing list of rubbish men. Four women have come forward to accuse celebrity chef Mario Batali of inappropriate behaviour in a pattern of conduct that stretches back at least two decades.

The women detailed their interactions with the chef and TV personality in a profile published by Eater New York, with three of the women experiencing the harassment while they were working for Batali.

Batali is alleged to have exhibited a pattern of leering and sexually-charged behaviour towards women, including crass language and a heightened focus on women’s bodies. This, the Eater profile details, has been something of an “open secret” amongst the culinary community.

Among the allegations detailed in the profile, a former server recounted how Batali would often “grab her from behind,” and leeringly press himself against her in hallways at the restaurant Batali co-owned. He would also make repeated sexual comments and engaged in other behaviour like snapping bra straps.

The women also accused Batali of repeatedly groping them, and a previous business partner is said to have been told repeatedly about Batali’s misconduct with female staffers. A new chef who was hired after Batali departed the restaurant is said to have been told “Don’t even think about messing with the waitresses — they’ve been through hell with Mario.” The celebrity chef was reportedly reprimanded for his leering behaviour as recent as two months ago.

As a result of the allegations, Batali has stepped aside from the day-to-day operations of his various businesses and restaurants, and the American ABC has removed the 57-year-old from his role as host of daytime cooking and talk show The Chew.

In a statement, Batali did not deny the allegations but did not specifically admit to them either, instead asserting that the timelines detailed in the allegations align with some of his admitted past behaviour.

I apologise 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 behaviour described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behaviour 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 behaviour. 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.

There you go, mates. Another one bites the dust.

Source: Eater
Image: Getty Images / JB Lacroix