Sexual scandal rocks cooking world after beloved celebrity chef admits to devastating groping charges

Television’s “Molto Mario” surprisingly fell into the frying pan and then into the fire in just a matter of hours.

Mario Batali was the subject of a damaging exposé by Eater NY on Monday that detailed four sexual misconduct allegations over the last two decades against the popular chef and restaurateur.

(Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

According to the report, three of the unnamed accusers are former employees of the 57-year-old restaurant owner, who is known for his roles on Food Network’s “Molto Mario” and ABC’s “The Chew.”

The fourth accuser claimed to be a fellow chef who approached Batali at a New Orleans wine auction ten years ago.

One of the women told Eater Batali came up behind her and held himself against her repeatedly over the course of two years. Another said the chef forced her to “straddle” him while another woman accused him of grabbing her breasts.

Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali (Photo by Jill Ann Spaulding/FilmMagic)

One woman alleged Batali spilled wine on her chest, then said something along the lines of “Let me help you with that”– and then proceeded to grope her breasts. She claimed Batali was under the influence of alcohol.

Eater noted that Batali had previously been reprimanded by his own company for misconduct that has largely flown under the public radar. Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group reported inappropriate behavior by the chef in October 2017. As a result of the complaint, Batali was forced to undergo training.

In response to the accusations, Batali issued an apology in which he said the allegations “match-up” with his behavior.

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” Batali said. “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.”

Batali then said he will be stepping down from managing his businesses day-to-day.

“I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses. We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior. I won’t make that mistake again. I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there.

“I know my actions have disappointed many people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team. The failures are mine alone. To the people who have been at my side during this time — my family, my partners, my employees, my friends, my fans — I am grateful for your support and hopeful that I can regain your respect and trust. I will spend the next period of time trying to do that.”

ABC confirmed to Fox News that the network asked Batali to step down from his role on “The Chew” for the time being:

“We have asked Mario Batali to step away from ‘The Chew’ while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention.

“ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct.”

Food Network also released a statement:

“Food Network takes matters like this very seriously and we are putting relaunch plans for ‘Molto Mario’ on hold” a representative for the network said.

Chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain had teased the exposé over the weekend.

Batali’s rapid fall is the latest example of how quickly a public career can come to an end amid sexual allegations in a post-Harvey Weinstein world.

Chef Mario Batali, Gretchen Witt, Founder Cookies For Kid’s and Bobby Flay (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)
Food Network Chefs Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, and Emeril Lagasse have all weathered some public storms through the years but they are still fan favorites. (Photo by Brian Killian/WireImage for Food Network)
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