On Tuesday, Mario Batali's co-hosts from the daytime cooking show The Chew took time at the beginning of the episode to address his absence from the show.
In a video that was later uploaded to Twitter, Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall, and Michael Symon read a brief message:
"Yesterday, allegations of past improper behavior surfaced about our own Mario Batali, and ABC asked him to step away from the show while those allegations are reviewed. We want you to know we take these matters very seriously and are committed to a safe work environment. Our commitment to our viewers remains the same — to deliver the entertaining show that you’ve come to expect."
The filmed segment followed a statement from ABC that it had asked Batali to "step away" from The Chew in light of after Eater published a months-long investigation into allegations against the chef. Batali has also taken a leave of absence from his restaurant group, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. The Eater article outlined alleged sexual misconduct against four women who chose to remain anonymous, but more accusers are already stepping forward. Today, both The Washington Post and CBS This Morning broke stories with more women, some named and some choosing to remain anonymous, detailing a similar pattern of alleged inappropriate comments and groping.
Holly Gunderson, a former special events director at Osteria Mozza, told the Post that after Batali told her he wanted to see her "naked in my hot tub back in the hotel," he later approached her and forcefully grabbed her in the crotch.
Monday's episode of The Chew, which was pre-taped, did not address Batali's absence, though Batali hasn't been on an episode of the show since December 4. The food world, at least, seemed aware that a major figure was about to fall – on Sunday night, Anthony Bourdain foreshadowed the news on Twitter, following up Monday to tweet, "It's Batali. And it's bad." Several other high-profile industry insiders also shared similar sentiments on Twitter.
Batali is the currently the most high-profile chef to have accusers step forward since the Harvey Weinstein scandal set off a wave of similar sexual harassment accusations against powerful men. The restaurant industry has long been know for what Bourdain referred to as "meathead culture" on Twitter. In November, he told Refinery29 the restaurant industry is due for a reckoning, saying, "I think there are going to be some very ugly scandals. I think some major figures are going to go down, in much the same way that they’re looking at Weinstein, they’re going to say, 'How could this have happened for all these years?'"
So far, the brief, taped statement from The Chew is the only public comment Batali's cohosts have made on the story, which is still developing.