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Mario Batali Steps Away From Restaurants Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations

© AP Photo / Brent N. Clarke / Chef Mario Batali attends the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in New York.
Chef Mario Batali attends the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in New York. - Sputnik International
After four women came forward with sexual harassment allegations involving famed celebrity chef Mario Batali, the 57-year-old culinary artist announced Monday that "much of the behavior described" was true and that he would be stepping away from "day-to-day operations" of his restaurants.

Batali's statement came hours after Eater, Vox Media's food and dining website, published the allegations.

"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," Batali said in a statement to Eater. "That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses."

"I know my actions have disappointed many people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team. The failures are mine alone. To the people who have been at my side during this time — my family, my partners, my employees, my friends, my fans — I am grateful for your support and hopeful that I can regain your respect and trust. I will spend the next period of time trying to do that," he added.

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Revealed in the accounts published by Eater are several occasions in which the Washington State-born chef acted inappropriately over a span of 20 years.

One woman chef told the outlet about an incident in 2007 when Batali, moments after offering her a job, began to rub her chest with his bare hands after someone had accidentally spilled wine on her blouse.

"He just went to town, and I was so shocked," the unidentified chef told Eater. "Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away."

The other three accusers, all of whom worked in Batali's restaurants, shared their recollections of various incidents when he repeatedly groped them — one of them even stated "he compelled her to straddle him."

The allegations against Batali aren't exactly new. In 2006, Bill Buford wrote in his book "Heat" that the infamous chef told a female server, "It's not fair I have this view all to myself when you bend over. For dessert, would you take off your blouse for the others?"

Prominent figures in the food industry have also spoken out on the allegations, with some saying that "no one should be surprised."

​Batali announced he would be taking a leave of absence from his role at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, a management company that supports more than 20 restaurants, and ABC also asked him to step away from "The Chew," a daytime food show he co-hosts.

Batali is not even the latest celebrity, politician or media figure to join the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Al Franken in sexual misconduct oblivion: Monday afternoon, it was announced that the New Yorker was cutting ties with prominent writer Ryan Lizza over similar allegations.

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