Celebrity chef Mario Batali no longer will be the host chef at the Link Stryjewski Foundation's (www.linkstryjewski.org) Bal Masque Chef's Dinner Jan. 19. Batali stepped down from his restaurant group following allegations of sexual misconduct published in an investigation by Eater.com. Chef Nancy Oakes (pictdured) of Boulevard Restaurant and Prospect Restaurant in San Francisco will replace Batali at the dinnner.
According to the Eater report, four women accused the high-profile chef and television personality of inappropriate touching in incidents spanning at least two decades. Most of the women were Batali's employees, although one of the women, a chef at a separate restaurant, told the website the chef touched her inappropriately at an after-party for a wine auction in New Orleans 10 years ago. The woman alleges that after a drink accidentally spilled on her shirt, Batali "...began rubbing her breasts with his bare hands while saying something like, 'Let me help you with that.'"
Eater reported that, according to a spokesperson for the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, Batali was reprimanded for inappropriate behavior in the workplace two months ago. Batali removed himself from day-to-day operations at the company.
The report comes on the heels of an explosive NOLA.com | The Times-Picyaune report alleging a widespread culture of sexual misconduct at the Besh Restaurant Group.