Celebrity chef Mario Batali has long been known for the bright orange croc he once wore everywhere, and for celebrities, such as Gwyneth Paltrow And Jimmy Fallon, who often came by his side. But he was known for something else for the employees working within his restaurant empire.
“He’ll hug you or kiss you or put his hand around your waist … or touch your hips,” said Trish Nelson, a former server at the now-shuttered New York City restaurant Spotted Pig, in which Batali is the primary investor. Were, says Discovery+’s new documentary, Batali: The Fall of a Superstar Chef, which is available now. “We called him a red menace.”
Nelson is one of several former employees of Batali’s eateries who allege in the document that the restaurant, once behind dozens of locations, was a co-host of TV. chew, the face of Eataly and, in fact, the creator of an entire food empire, had indulged in sexual misconduct for years. He described instances in which he said or became sexually suggestive things to her – as one of his former restaurant partners, Steve Crane, called it “touchy feely” – or worse.
He described a man with two different sides: one who was charming and friendly and another who came out after drinking too much. The man who came to the fore as night fell was ugly and unsightly. Workers said they felt trapped and unheard, as the restaurant industry was not equipped to deal with reports of their sexual misconduct.
For example, Nelson recalled a night she was bringing drinks to Batali’s table of seven. She could only have six drinks, so she assured the seventh man that she would return with him. In front of everyone, she said, Batali told her that, if she sat on the man’s face, she would “come back again and again.” Other women reported that Batali had grabbed their breasts or back on several occasions.
There were also fans like Sharelle Kloss, co-founder of the dry soda company, who alleged that Batali had touched her inappropriately in brief encounters.
“He asked me if I wanted a picture with him,” Klaus said. “And as they were taking the picture, he put his hand in my pants under my underwear and grabbed my ass.”
Eva DeVirgilis, a former hostess at Batali’s New York City restaurant Babbo, publicly reveals herself in the documentary as one of Batali’s accusers. She told her story in an interview 60 minutes in 2018, but then her face was unclear. Not at this time.
DeVirgilis alleged that, in 2005, she agreed to accompany Batali to the Spotted Pig after her shift, in the hopes that others would too. But his boss picked him up in a limo and took him to a candlelight banquet, where he drank and blacked out.
“And then I have a moment, a flash, where I’m being kissed by him, like, hard. And then I have another flash where I’m throwing up in the toilet. I feel like he’s following me, ” said DeVirgilis. “And then there was nothing. And then I woke up … on a floor, on a hardwood floor. I didn’t know where I was.”
Immediately, DeVirgilis said, she thought she had been prescribed the drug, as she usually didn’t get sick or black out while drinking. She also said that she found scratches on the inside of her legs and something that could have been semen on her skirt. So she went to Mount Sinai Hospital and got a rape kit made, but refused to go to the police, because she was concerned about her ability to get a job in the industry when she told her story. He gives notice and releases Babbo.
Batali continues a controversial apology as for past behavior in December 2017, as Eater published four women’s allegations against him, but he also has Denies all allegations of sexual harassment, He declined to be a part of the new Discovery+ documentary and Yahoo was unable to contact him for comment.
but Batali: The Fall of a Superstar Chef Points out that he was only part of the problem in an industry that has long allowed bad behavior by many people to go unchecked. As do several journalists who covered alleged sexual misconduct by Batali – Julia Moskin and Kim Severson, new York TimesAnd freelancer Irene Plagianos, who wrote about celebrity chefs for Eater — explained in the documentary, her reporting on it came in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement.
After his reports surfaced in 2017, Batali’s deals disappeared.
New York Attorney General Letitia James eventually investigated the restaurant group co-owned by Spotted Pig and Batali, where she found the wrong, While Batali was not charged with a felony in New York, he was charged with indecent assault and battery in Boston in 2017 for forcibly holding and kissing Natalie Tene at a local bar.
“I’ve never been touched like this before,” Tene testified, “like squeezing between my legs, squeezing my vagina to get closer to you, like it’s a normal way to grab someone.”
The judge found that Tene had “significant credibility issues” because of the text messages he sent about the encounter with Batali and his behavior as a juror in another case, and called Batali pleaded not guilty in May.
he also has Settlement of many civil cases related to sexual misconduct in the past few years.
Batali: The Fall of a Superstar Chef Currently streaming on Discovery+.