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Chef Mario Batali on Sexual Harassment: There Should Be ‘Zero’ Tolerance

Before Mario Batali was himself accused of inappropriate conduct in the workplace, he sounded off on the issue — saying there’s no room for harassment in the restaurant industry.

The celebrity chef and author had addressed the recent sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood during a media preview last month for Eataly L.A., the new Los Angeles outpost of his Italian marketplace chain.

Batali, who has since stepped down as co-host on ABC’s “The Chew” as well as his own businesses, stressed that it’s “as much about awareness as it is about training,” and noted that his company provides twice-a-year sexual harassment training for its employees.

“You’d be surprised at how few people recognize the tell-tale signs [of harassment],” Batali said. “You don’t want to be drowned by P.C. [political correctness] but you can’t have people be deterred from a workplace, like in hospitality, because they were frightened, or intimidated, or disgusted by something that was in the kitchen.”

The website Eater reported Monday that four women have accused him of groping and other inappropriate behavior. In a statement, Batali apologized “to the people I have mistreated and hurt.”

Back at the press preview last month, Batali said the recent developments signal a changing of the guard, not just in the film and TV industries, but in the restaurant industry as well.

“The dinosaurs are going to slowly die off, and the quicker it happens the better it is,” he said, “but it’s a tricky time, and we got to be careful, they have to be very careful how they do it. The best way is to just make sure there is no tolerance for any bulls–t in any workplace that you’re associated with. Zero.”

In light of the recent allegations, Food Network has also put on hold plans to relaunch “Molto Mario,” the series that made Batali a TV star.

 

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