Mario Batali is the latest star accused of sexual harassment. Industry experts say these are the female chefs who should take his job.
Celebrity chef Mario Batali is the latest star in hot water over sexual harassment allegations, and it could also cost him his TV hosting gig.
Four women accused the chef and restaurateur of inappropriate touching and groping while working for him, according to an Eater report published Monday. The accounts span over two decades.
Batali, 57, issued an apology and announced he was taking a leave of absence from his hospitality group indefinitely. He is the latest in a long line of disgraced high-powered bigwigs to be outed in a post-Harvey Weinstein era that’s opened the floodgates for women across all industries to come forward with their stories.
Other chefs who have come under fire for sexual misconduct recently include New Orleans chef John Besh, who stepped down from the company he founded in October, and Todd English, who was accused of sexual harassment by a female employee at his Plaza Hotel Food Hall.
“The rule book was written by guys in the kitchen. You had to put up and shut up. They’re going to make crude jokes, and you can either make jokes back or be labeled as prude,” New York-based hospitality consultant Kate Edwards tells Moneyish. “It’s empowering to hear these women come forward. Now there’s room to rewrite the rule book and say ‘We’re going to be respectful to one another, and be respectful of those who are in it.’ Now we’re back to the idea of fair share.”
Batali could also be getting the boot from his ABC chatfest “The Chew.” The network asked him to step away from his co-hosting post while they review allegations against him. His image still remains on the show’s website.
ABC could be looking for a replacement to join fellow co-hosts Carla Hall, Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly sooner rather than later. Here are some top female chefs industry experts say should take his place.
A former contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” Robbins already has small screen experience, and an impressive culinary resume to go along with it. While working in Chicago as executive chef at Spiaggia, she was nominated twice for a James Beard award, and often cooked for former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama. They’re not her only fans — she has more than 20,000 Instagram followers liking her every dish, whether it’s soppressata and honey over toast, or her Tuscan kale and mascarpone-filled ravioli. Now she runs the kitchen at the highly acclaimed Italian restaurant Lilia in Brooklyn.
“She’s a great person in terms of her story and the heights she’s achieved,” praises Edwards. “She’s not afraid to speak out and talk. She’s also someone who had loads of fans. She’s an incredible cook.”
This California native cut her teeth on American culinary in the early 1980s when she was hired by chef Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles to work as a pastry chef. She went on to open her own bakery, La Brea, where she mastered the artistry of bread baking. In 2007 she partnered with Batali and his business partner Joseph Bastianich to open the Italian restaurant Osteria Mozza and an adjoining pizzeria that became an instant hit. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star a year later, and Silverton won the James Beard award for Best Chef in 2014.
“She’s paid her dues. She has an incredible amount of experience, and she’s very personable,” restaurant consultant Jason Kaplan says. “She would be a breath of fresh air with the experience to back it up.”
This Thailand-born chef worked at prestigious dining institutions like Per Se where she met her husband Matt Danzer. Together they opened a hip spot for playful Thai food and inventive cocktails at Uncle Boons in New York City. Industry experts say having a younger female voice would benefit the show.
“She’s honest. There’s definitely a brightness to her that I think would shine in a really nice way,” says Edwards.
I hope you’re loving my new show Cook Like a Pro on Food Network! This Sunday @ 11am EST is “Make-Ahead Desserts,” and I’ll be making Apple Pie Bars, Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, Stewed Rhubarb & Red Berries, and Sparking Grapefruit Granita. I'm thinking I might just have to make one of those for my dinner party this weekend!! Which one would you make??
America has welcomed this “Barefoot Contessa” star into their living rooms for years on her solo cooking show. Now foodies want to see her cook up wonders with fellow culinary colleagues and a live audience.
“She’s great on TV. Even if she’s making something you think you don’t want to try, you end up making it because she makes it look great and easy,” says Kaplan. “Ina would offer a wiser voice, and keep everybody together like a ringleader. She’s a veteran in this industry and a voice of reason. She’s just so down to earth.”
Edwards agrees: “She’s lovely. She’s warm. She has a great tone, she has a wealth of knowledge and the way she talks about food is very inspiring.”
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