In an article posted on Eater on Monday morning, four women came forward with personal stories accusing Batali of “inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades.” Batali has since removed himself from the day-to-day operations of his restaurant empire, and ABC has asked him to step away from The Chew “while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” said a spokesperson from the network.
In a statement to PEOPLE, 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.”
In the wake of the news, high-profile chefs and culinary insiders have taken to Twitter to comment on the allegations and life inside the restaurant world.
Anthony Bourdain began tweeting cryptic hints about the Batali allegations on Sunday night, the night before the news broke. “No. Trust me. Monday is really gonna suck,” he wrote. He then followed with: “It’s where you stand when the people you care about and admire do awful things that matters. Keeping head down and hoping it goes away? No.”
As the news broke on Monday morning, Bourdain confirmed the subject of his Tweets: “It’s Batali. And it’s bad,” he wrote.
Bourdain has been outspoken on Twitter regarding the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations, weighing in on the harassment claims against New Orleans chef John Besh and Harvey Weinstein. Bourdain’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, is one of the many women who have come forward with allegations against the film producer.
Chef Tom Colicchio entered the Twitter conversation by responding to Bourdain with a pointed statement: “And no one should be surprised.”
Colicchio also responded to another Twitter user who questioned his lack of action. The initial tweet said, “Statements like ‘no one should be surprised’ sound an awful lot like a lot of people knew and chose not to intervene… no one should stand by silent.” The chef responded stating that accusations against Batali were “well documented in Bill Buford’s book Heat.” In the book, which was published in 2007, Buford wrote about Batali’s crass and boorish behavior toward female employees at his New York City restaurant Lupa.
The Top Chef judge has been vocal in the wake of the several sexual misconduct scandals this year. In a first-person piece published in November called “An Open Letter to Male Chefs”, Colicchio addressed the “rampant harassment in the restaurant industry culture.” He wrote in the piece: “This isn’t just a matter of a few bad eggs and we all know it. For every John Besh splashed across Page Six, we can assume hundreds, if not thousands, more with kitchens just like the ones his female employees described.”
Other culinary professionals have weighed in on the Batali revelations, including Top Chef alum Tiffani Faison, who tweeted: “I cannot believe we are in a true watershed moment when NOT ONE MAN has gotten ahead of allegations. They all know what they did and are just hoping their number doesn’t come up. That is the opposite of integrity. #metoo #mariobatali”
French chef Eric Ripert later followed with a general statement on the abusive behavior in the industry: “Treating anyone with less than the upmost respect is completely unacceptable. Any behavior that’s abusive or hurtful in any way has never been tolerated in our restaurant. All of our safety, wellbeing and success in the workplace and society depends on compassion and accountability. Higher moral standards should be the rule and not the exception.”