Anthony Bourdain Opens Up About the 'Male-Dominated, Cruel' Food Industry and 'Gruesome' John Besh Allegations
Anthony Bourdain knows sexual harassment isn’t limited to the movie business.
The Parts Unknown host weighed in on the allegations made against celebrity chef John Besh‘s Besh Restaurant Group—which includes 12 eateries—for enabling a culture of sexual harassment in his restaurants. Although Bourdain says he didn’t previously know of the allegations, he’s still disgusted by the report.
“Look, I know what I read in the papers and what I read in the papers is a pretty f—ing gruesome story,” he told Slate.
“I don’t know the facts of the case or anything with the Besh company, but the fact that it’s a company this size and that there was not a credible avenue, no trustworthy credible office or institution in this big company for women to report or to complain with any confidence that their complaints would be addressed, this is, it’s an indictment of the system,” he added.
Besh stepped down from his company on Monday, just two days after more than 25 current and former employees allege they were regularly subjected to inappropriate touching and comments from their male bosses and co-workers, according to an investigation by The Times-Picayune. Since Besh’s departure, Raymond Landry, the general counsel of the Besh Restaurant Group, told TIME that the company has “revamped” its training, education and procedures to ensure that women feel comfortable coming forward in the future.
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Bourdain, 61, told Slate that the food industry has always been male-dominated, with chefs being abused by their superiors in a kind of hazing ritual.
“There are a lot of chefs still walking around who came up through that system,” he said. “Éric Ripert talked about how he used to be that guy. Then one day he realized, look, I’m miserable and everybody working with me is miserable. This is just not f—ing working. And took a hard look at themselves. But the system itself, from the very beginning, was abusive, was male-dominated and cruel beyond imagining.”
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The chef shared that he is now looking at his own life and what he could have done better to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Despite admitting to sexualizing food and using explicit language, he said he never tolerated unwanted sexual advances on female workers.
“I would do the classic, throw plates on the ground. If waiters or waitresses for that matter displeased me I would rail at the heavens, curse, scream. But I like to think I never made anyone feel uncomfortable, creeped out, or coerced, or sexualized in the workplace,” he said. “I’ve certainly fired people, even back in the ’80s: If somebody was taking their personal business out on a female employee, or creeping on an employee, they were gone. They were f—ing gone. It was just not something I could live with.”