ABC's The Chew is losing a co-host for the second time this year, although this time, it's safe to say no one was planning for it. Celebrity chef Mario Batali is stepping down from the daytime series following a series of allegations of sexual misconduct that were reported by an online food-trade publication. Additionally, Batali has stepped down from his company Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group for an indefinite period of time.
As for the actual allegations, the online publication Eater New York published the accounts of four women after conducting dozens of other interviews with restaurant workers and their experiences with Mario Batali over the past two decades in the restaurant world. The interviews, which paint Batali in a much different light than what his fans have seen on camera, indicate a pattern of inappropriate conduct with women over the years. The women's allegations mainly revolve around the groping of breasts and buttocks and, in one instance, a former employee alleged that Batali prompted her to straddle him. While it's unknown if any of this occurred on the set of The Chew or other TV series that Batali has been a part of, it has been confirmed that Batali had already been officially reprimanded for misconduct at his business Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group as recently as two months ago.
While the specific allegations at this time remain unconfirmed by the chef, Mario Batali's apologetic statement would appear to indicate he acknowledges there is some truth to what is being reported. Without addressing details, Batali issued a public apology for his actions:
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.
In addition to the allegations of groping and other inappropriate behavior, it's reported that some of those who came forward were previously afraid to speak out against Mario Batali for fear of retaliation from the celebrity chef. Those that feared repercussions stated Batali is known for taking on a very threatening demeanor when he's felt wronged by others, making his actions all the more aggressive. This is backed up by a former co-owner of one of Batali's restaurants in the '90s, Steve Crane, who said the women who complained to him would ask that he not tell Batali about the complaints, worrying it would only make things worse.
As for exiting The Chew, it was ABC who asked Mario Batali to step down while the network reviews the allegations. Batali joined The Chew in 2011 and has since appeared in over 1,000 episodes of the daytime foodie series. In an official statement, ABC remarked it was not immediately aware of any misconduct on Batali's part on the set of the show, but that an investigation is underway:
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.
Elsewhere on the TV spectrum, USA Today reported that plans to revive the former Iron Chef's Food Network series Molto Mario have been put on hold while these allegations are handled accordingly. And he's not the only celebrity chef that's gotten into hot water over harassment claims, as Southern chef John Besh recently faced a slew of heated accusations of his own, causing him to step down from his Besh Restaurant Group, with his already filmed Top Chef Season 15 appearance unlikely to happen.
Now without Mario Batali, The Chew airs weekdays on ABC at 1:00 p.m. ET. For more on upcoming programming, visit our fall premiere guide and midseason premiere guide. For a look at some shows that have been canceled in 2017, visit our cancellation guide. For a look at what's up on Netflix, visit our Netflix guide.