In an interview on the Eater Upsell podcast, the chef and restaurateur discussed her relationship with the former Chew cohost. “I did not have those exact experiences with him, but it doesn’t come as a huge shock,” she said.
“Anybody who’s ever hung out with Mario knows he’s a very charismatic person,” she continued. “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.”
De Laurentiis revealed that it was Batali—along with her Food Network Star cohost Bobby Flay—that helped her through the process of opening her first restaurant in Las Vegas, and that their close relationship made the situation “really sad.” She also added that women in the industry need to support each other 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,” said De Laurentiis. “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.”
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As first reported by Eater, Batali was accused of groping several different women that involved “inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades.” Three of the accusers worked for Batali, with one former employee claiming that he grabbed her from behind and pressed her against him repeatedly over the course of two years. Two others described incidents where Batali groped them.
In a statement to Eater following the allegations, Batali said: “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.”