Weeks after Mic published its first report on sexual harassment allegations against pastry chef and TV host Johnny Iuzzini, four more women have come forward to Mic to allege sexual harassment and abuse — and they say management at Jean-Georges, the acclaimed New York City restaurant where the abuse took place, was aware of Iuzzini’s inappropriate behavior as early as 2004.
Mic obtained documentation that supports claims that Jean-Georges knew of some of the allegations against Iuzzini. The documentation includes reports one source filed to management in 2010, after Iuzzini allegedly physically threatened her, as well as a lawsuit filed against the Jean-Georges restaurant group that claims an adult performer was hired at an after-hours event at the restaurant in 2004.
The lawsuit, filed in 2007 by former Jean-Georges waiter Joseph Bassani, says that a woman “entered the dining room and began to perform explicit sexual acts on herself and with employees.” Iuzzini singled out Bassani as a volunteer. According to Mic, the suit was out of court in early 2008.
The sources said it was common knowledge that Iuzzini arranged the performance, which made several attendees uncomfortable. According to these same sources, Iuzzini got in trouble for the party and was absent from the restaurant for an undefined period of time following the incident.
A Jean-Georges spokesperson said in an email to Mic: “We take issues of employee welfare very seriously and have worked hard to make sure employees have a safe environment to work in... However, we cannot comment about a current or former employee matter — particularly one more than 13 years ago.”
The latest Mic report also details new allegations of harassment from women who worked with or under Iuzzini during his time as pastry chef at Jean-Georges and includes a correction to a 2010 incident described in the first report. A pastry chef came forward to say that Iuzzini did not throw a canister at her as initially reported. Instead, he raised a KitchenAid bowl threateningly as if to throw it. He was angry at her for not using liquid nitrogen while making ice cream. She reported the incident to management shortly after it occurred.
Iuzzini told Mic that the new allegations included in the latest report are untrue. “I am truly disheartened at the thought of anyone being hurt from my past actions,” he said to Mic after reviewing the allegations. “However, there is a difference between accepting responsibility for my immaturity and allowing false claims and accusations to be reported.”
Iuzzini is one of several chefs who have been accused of sexual harassment in recent months. New Orleans chef John Besh stepped down from his restaurant group after sexual harassment allegations in October. Yesterday, Mario Batali stepped down from his restaurant empire and ABC removed the chef from his role as a host on The Chew. Earlier today, New York City restaurateur Ken Friedman announced he would step down from managing his restaurants following a New York Times report that he groped employees and sent lewd text messages, among other misconduct.
Iuzzini does not currently work in a restaurant kitchen, but he remains a co-judge on ABC’s The Great American Baking Show, which debuted its third season December 7. ABC has yet to comment.