American celebrity chef Mario Batali has been bought out of his restaurant chain following a stunning fall from grace amid multiple sexual assault claims.
Batali, who co-founded the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group with Joe and Lidia Bastianich in 1998, owned more than 10 food establishments in New York City alone, with more scattered across the US, Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong. Batali was also well known for various television appearances on ABC’s The Chew and is considered to have popularised Food Network.
Allegations first surfaced about the disgraced chef in 2017, when four women came forward alleging that he had assaulted and harassed them over the previous two decades. More and more women came forward with allegations against Batali, who was forced to step away from his television and restaurant commitments.
It was reported that Batali had groped numerous women, including chefs and other restaurateurs, at several of his restaurants, including the high-profile Spotted Pig in New York’s West Village. When the claims broke, many chefs expressed sorrow but not surprise, as rumours had plagued Batali for his entire career. The late Antony Bourdain simply commented on Twitter “It’s Batali. And it’s bad.”, summing up how the culinary community felt.
It’s Batali. And it’s bad .— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) December 11, 2017
By the end of 2017, nine women had come forward with claims against Batali, with further allegations, including two women who that Batali had drugged and raped them, surfacing in 2018. Throughout 2018, Batali apologised for any wrongdoing that may have occurred, while vehemently denying all counts of assault and rape.
By May 2018, the Batali and Bastianich Hospitality group had confirmed that it would end all ties to Batali, stating that they were proceeding with negotiations to buy him out of the company which would be finalised by July 1st 2018. Throughout 2018, several of Batali’s restaurants were shuttered, with business falling away from the disgraced chef, but for reasons that remain unclear, the buyout was not fully completed until March 2019.
It was reported recently that Batali will no longer profit from the restaurant group that has bought him out. Tanya Bastianich Manuali, daughter of founder Lidia Bastianich, will manage the company going forward and has indicated that Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group will be renamed to fully sever ties with Batali.