Mario Batali 'Steps Away' From His Restaurants and 'The Chew' Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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Mario Batali and the Cookie Monster on
Mario Batali and the Cookie Monster on "The Chew." Credit: ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua

Mario Batali is "stepping away" from management of his restaurant group and from co-hosting duties at ABC's "The Chew" following a sexual-misconduct investigation by Eater.com published this morning.

For their piece, Eater's Irene Plagianos and Kitty Greenwald conducted dozens of interviews. The report begins with a story from "about 10 years ago" told by a chef, then in her 20s, who attended a wine auction in New Orleans where Batali was also present. After a wine spill on her chest and scooped-neck shirt,

She alleges that Batali began rubbing her breasts with his bare hands while saying something like, "Let me help you with that," as he groped her chest. "He just went to town, and I was so shocked," the chef says. "Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away."

Eater calls that alleged inappropriate touching part of "a pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades." Three other women in the story make detailed accusations of sexual misconduct by Batali.

Eater notes that in a statement,

Batali said that he is stepping away from the day-to-day operations of his businesses for an unspecified period of time. ABC, where Batali has co-hosted the daytime show The Chew since 2011, has also asked the chef to step away from the show "while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention," a spokesperson said.

Batali also issued an apology "to the people I have mistreated and hurt" and adds that "much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted." Read his full statement in the Eater story.

ABC's "The Chew" appears to have been unprepared for the exposé and Batali's departure. This morning the show's website remains unchanged, with Batali's bio page describing him as "one of the most recognized and respected chefs in America today." And the show's Twitter account is so far not addressing the news; @thechew's feed has gone silent following an 8:00 a.m. tweet (one minute before Eater's story went live) about sugar cookies stacked like Christmas trees:

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