David X. Prutting/Patrick McMullan

"I couldn't go through with it," the TV chef tells PEOPLE of his last-minute decision

October 15, 2009 11:15 AM

After three years of dating, celebrity chef Todd English called it quits with fiancée Erica Wang just one week before their planned $150,000 wedding at New York’s lavish St. Regis Hotel.

Speaking to PEOPLE, a tearful English described the relationship between the two of them as “volatile and vicious,” accusing Wang of “physical and verbal abuse” that reached fever pitch when she reportedly hit him in the eye last month.

“I couldn’t go through with it,” said English, 49. “I thought I’d met my partner, but as things progressed [it] went down hill.”

A source close to English, however, also explains, “He had other girlfriends.”

Bride’s Worst Fear

Meanwhile in an extensive interview with the New York Post that ran Sunday, Wang, 33, said she experienced every bride’s worst nightmare – to be left alone at the altar.

“I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” said Wang, who was unavailable for further comment. “I understand that people are upset and that I could have handled this differently.”

Remaining out of touch with English since the split, Wang has moved out of the couple’s downtown Manhattan apartment. English has filed assault charges with the NYPD for the September altercation.

With reporting by LINDA MARX and ALYSSA SHELASKY

For more on Todd English’s messy split, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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