A celebrity sushi chef is facing allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances on a female manager and repeatedly demeaned her in Japanese.
Abe Hiroki is the head chef at EN Japanese Brasserie in the West Village in New York, a popular spot for celebrities, especially those in the fashion world. He has appeared on Martha Stewart’s magazine and her VH1 show with Snoop Dogg, titled “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.”
On Monday, Mayumi Bardiovsky filed a complaint in New York Supreme Court alleging that Hiroki had routinely harassed her and made inappropriate sexual remarks.
On one occasion, Bardiovsky says that he touched a vegetable that he said looked like a vibrator. He also encouraged her to divorce her husband, repeatedly propositioned her to sleep at his apartment and take trips with him, and discussed masturbation at work. He also asked what color her nipples are and asked for her swimsuit photographs.
Bardiovsky began working at the restaurant as a runner in 2009, later became a waitress and is now a manager, according to the complaint. She alleges that Hiroki frequently comments on her appearance, calling her cute or pretty, but can also be demeaning. He made fun of her jaw line, for several months calling her “ago,” the Japanese word for “jaw,” according to the complaint. He has also remarked that she was gaining weight and called her “ugly” in front of vendors, she alleges.
Bardiovsky, who is Japanese, also alleges that Hiroki makes many of his offensive comments in Japanese so the English-speaking staff will not understand. She says he also touched her rear end, and hugged her while making a humping motion.
In a statement, the restaurant said it was investigating the allegations.
“As a female owned and operated restaurant with a female management team, we are aware of the allegations concerning Ms. Bardiovsky,” the statement said. “We take these allegations seriously and we have been conducting an investigation… We kindly ask that you respect all the parties involved until a conclusion has been made.”