Mario Batali, the celebrity chef who has created a restaurant empire, has been accused of sexual misconduct.
In an Eater expose, four women have come forward with personal stories accusing the 57-year-old celebrity chef of 'inappropriate touching' in a pattern of behaviour that spans at least two decades.
According to the story, published Monday, one of the accusers introduced herself to him at a party about 10 years ago. When someone bumped into her and spilt wine down her shirt, Batali reportedly groped her saying, 'Let me help you with that.'
The woman told the publication, 'He just went to town, and I was so shocked. Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.'
Batali's own company, Batali & Bastianich Group, released a statement that read: 'We have had systematic policies and training about sexual harassment for over 10 years, including a detailed procedure for employees to report complaints to senior management. All members of management have participated in these trainings, including Mr. Batali.'
Since the accusations came to light, Batali has announced he will take a leave of absence from his restaurant empire, as well as his ABC hosting job on The Chew.
In a statement released to Eater, Batali says: '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 behaviour described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behaviour 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.
'I know my actions have disappointed many people.'