Mario Batali has abruptly exited as co-host of ABC’s “The Chew” amid sexual harassment allegations leveled against the celebrity chef and restaurateur. Food Network has also put on hold plans to relaunch the series that made him a TV star, “Molto Mario.”
The website Eater reported that four women have come forward with allegations of groping and other inappropriate behavior while working for Batali. The allegations stretch back at least two decades.
In a statement, Batali told Eater that he apologized “to the people I have mistreated and hurt.” ABC said it was reviewing the allegations and had asked Batali to step down from “Chew.”
“We have asked Mario Batali to step away from ‘The Chew’ while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” an ABC spokeswoman said. “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.”
Batali has been one of four co-anchors of ABC’s daytime cooking and lifestyle series “The Chew” since its inception in 2011.
Batali just last month set a deal with Food Network to produce new episodes of his signature cooking series “Molto Mario” for the first time since 2005. “Food Network takes matters like this very seriously and we are putting relaunch plans for Molto Mario on hold,” the cabler said in a statement.
Batali has also been forced to step away from Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, the restaurant management shingle he runs with Joe Bastianich, another TV foodie known for his stint on “MasterChef.” Batali and Bastianich said it would bring in an outside firm to investigate any additional claims that arise.