Today Eater published a detailed exposé about celebrity chef Mario Batali, describing alleged sexual misconduct that dates back decades. Batali reportedly groped and verbally harassed women in his restaurants for years. The chef himself didn’t deny it to Eater–in his words:
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.
He had a very different sentiment in October, at the Fast Company Innovation Festival. There, he sat on stage and discussed the changing landscape for women in the food industry, as well as the country as a whole. “I think the reckoning is coming across the board. It is a time for women and men to face each other across the board, across the table,” he said.
Batali described his mostly female staff at his restaurant Del Posto: “It’s not because they have a vagina, it’s because they are the smartest people for the job.” He went on, “I hate it when someone calls and says listen, we want to do a piece on [executive chef] Melissa [Rodriguez] as a great woman chef. Why don’t you fucking do a piece about her being a great chef and we’ll talk about her sexuality later?”
Things are changing, he told the audience. “The industry is changing a lot and people are trying to do the right thing and it’s still slow to come … You know, it took a long time for those dinosaurs to go extinct and it’s gonna be that way and it’s just… What you can do is push forward and do the right thing in your own place.”