Months after Mario Batali admitted to some, though not all, accusations of sexual misconduct, the chef is officially divesting from his restaurant group, the New York Times reports today. Previously, Batali announced plans to merely “step away from day-to-day operations” at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, but this move still allowed Batali to profit from B&B businesses, which have varying ownership structures. By divesting, Batali severs financial ties with the restaurant group.
The divestment process, thus far, is going smoothly, according to Joe Bastianich, Batali’s partner in B&B Hospitality Group, who has been negotiating the buyout with Batali via lawyers. (Bastianich has also been accused of being instrumental in creating the “boy’s club” culture at B&B restaurants, including flirting with female staffers.)
“The process of his divestiture is going really well considering how complex it is,” Bastianich said to the Times. “The real point of beginning will be when he departs from the company. That’s ground zero. It’s about creating a post-Mario world.”
Batali, meanwhile, is in the process of figuring out how to move forward with his career. Although he declined to be interviewed for the story, the Times spoke to friends and associates of the disgraced chef who had advised him on various plans of action, including creating a new company with a woman at its head, founding a program in which chefs would accompany him to help displaced Rwandans return to Rwanda, and simply moving to the Amalfi Coast.
Others in the industry wish to distance themselves totally from Batali, Anthony Bourdain among them. “Retire and count yourself lucky,” he told the Times. “I say that without malice, or without much malice. I am not forgiving. I can’t get past it. I just cannot and that’s me, someone who really admired him and thought the world of him.”
Food consultant and writer Christine Muhlke, who met with Batali in February, offered similar advice when asked by the Times: “Leave the field,” she said, “and let us do the work needed to build something better.”
Meanwhile, the article has quickly garnered criticism on Twitter for its redemption arc, with food writers like Korsha Wilson pointing out that despite the severity of the allegations, “(once again), men get to control the narrative.”
As reporters we need to ask ourselves 'who gets the mic' more often than other ppl and work on illuminating those stories. Batali doesn't need the mic right now. A more interesting read would have been a follow up with the women that came forward and how their lives have changed.— korsha wilson (@korshawilson) April 2, 2018
I want redemption to be possible, but you can't zip from "long history of harassment" to "comeback" without the work in between— Jaya Saxena (@jayasax) April 2, 2018
This is not to say The Named Bad Men shouldn’t bother redeeming themselves. I hope they try to through meaningful reparations and anti violence labor for survivors. That their first instincts are to repair their public image is enormously telling.— Max Falkowitz (@maxfalkowitz) April 2, 2018
THIS LANGUAGE: "Several powerful men, in several industries, have had their worlds kicked out from under them as the #MeToo movement has gathered momentum." https://t.co/hBAv8wFZue— alicia kennedy (@aliciakennedy) April 2, 2018
Batali is just one of several chefs to be accused of sexual harassment and misconduct as a part of the #MeToo movement. He is, however, one of few who have divested. Accused restaurateurs John Besh and Ken Friedman have yet to take similar action.
• Sidelined by Scandal, Mario Batali Is Eyeing His Second Act [NYT]
• Mario Batali Steps Away From Restaurant Empire Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations [E]
• Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich Fostered a ‘Boys’ Club’ Culture of Misconduct at Restaurants, Dozens Allege [ENY]