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Following the Eater New York exposé published Monday, in which four women accuse Mario Batali of sexual misconduct, there’s now an online petition calling for Target to drop the disgraced celebrity chef’s product line from being sold at its stores.
The petition on Care2 is calling on Target CEO Brian Cornell “to disavow Batali’s behavior by vowing to stop selling his cookbooks and branded products.” (Target’s website currently sells Batali pasta sauce and cookbooks.) The petition, created by Kelsey Bourgeois, is asking for 10,000 signatures; it currently has 2,642 supporters at press time.
“The restaurant industry is notoriously an abusive workplace. Men often run kitchens and there is often very little recourse for when someone crosses a line,” wrote Bourgeois. “Now, one of the giants of the industry has been found to be a serial abuser. He admits it himself. Our reaction must be firm: We won’t support someone who abuses their power in this way.”
In the Eater article, one former Batali employee alleged that the chef grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against his body, another claimed he groped her and “compelled her to straddle him,” and a third alleged he grabbed her breasts at a party. The fourth woman, identified as a chef who never worked for Batali, spoke about how the chef groped her chest after she was accidentally splashed with wine at a party. Nearly three dozen current and former employees of Batali told Eater that he was known for using sexual innuendo in workplace conversation.
Following the exposé, Batali stated that he would be step away from the day-to-day operations of his businesses for an unspecified period of time.
“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted,” he said. “That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”
Added Batali: “I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses. We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior. I won’t make that mistake again. I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there.”
Batali has served as a co-host on ABC’s morning cooking show The Chew, but has since been asked to step away from the program while the network reviews the allegations. Along with business partner Joe Bastianich, Batali owns B&B Hospitality Group, which operates over 20 restaurants around the world. He recently opened the 60,000-square-foot Eataly in Westfield Century City.
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