Celebrity chef Mario Batali confessed to a pattern of inappropriate behavior after four women accused him of sexual misconduct in an article for Eater published in mid-December. And now, four months later, fellow chef Giada de Laurentiis is opening up about her relationship with the chef, who once helped her open her first restaurant in Las Vegas.
“I did not have those exact experiences with him, but it doesn’t come as a huge shock,” she told Eater Upsell podcast on Wednesday, April 18. “Anybody who’s ever hung out with Mario knows he’s a very charismatic person. We drink too much and sometimes. I’m not legitimizing it by any means. I know I’ve been through my own issues in this business. I think any woman in any business goes through stuff. It’s just sad, you know? It’s time, but it’s also sad. It’s a combo, and I think we all feel both.”
Giada then noted that women need to come together more. “We need to stick up for ourselves, and I think that we need to change our culture, and the children need to learn to respect human beings, no matter what you look like, who you are, male or female,” she said. “We just need to be respectful. Someone says they don’t wanna do something, they don’t wanna do it, period. Let’s just be nice to each other.”
The allegations against Mario spanned at least two decades, and three of the accusers had worked for The Chew co-host in the past. One of the women described an encounter she had with Mario about 10 years ago, during which she spilled some wine down her shirt. The 57-year-old allegedly groped her, saying, “Let me help you with that.”
“He just went to town, and I was so shocked,” she recalled. “Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.” The others also shared stories of similar incidents that involved Mario grabbing them from behind or pressing into them.
The women said they kept quiet out of fear. “He has clear intent on being threatening when he is wronged,” one of the victims, who reportedly worked for the chef in the 1990s, explained. “And the level of vindictiveness is very chilling. So, it never occurred to me to share tales out of school.”
After the stories came to light, Mario said he’d be taking a leave of absence from his restaurant empire as well as The Chew. “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,” he said in a statement to Eater. “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.”
He continued, “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.”
Days after, in a statement to People magazine, ABC revealed, “We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention. ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct.”