According to Vox Media’s Eater, four women say Batali touched them inappropriately in a pattern of behavior that allegedly spanned two decades. In response to the report, ABC has asked Batali to step away from The Chew “while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” per a spokesperson.
Batali’s exit marks the second recent big departure from The Chew this year: As TVLine exclusively reported, co-host Daphne Oz left the food-centric talk show ahead of its Season 7 premiere in September.
The Eater story also notes that the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, which manages restaurants owned or co-owned by the celebrity chef, had its first official complaint of inappropriate behavior against Batali in October. Batali was reprimanded and made to go through training.
Batali did not deny the accusations, saying via statement:
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.