What was, briefly, “Coming Soon” from Mario Batali? Earlier this week, a tipster spotted an update on the disgraced chef’s personal website, MarioBatali.com, which featured a new photograph of the chef and the phrase “Coming Soon.” When contacted, a representative for Batali said that the “Coming Soon” was mistakenly added by the site’s webmaster and would be promptly removed. (It was.)
But if the “Coming Soon” phrase was an error, new life on the site seems to indicate that something is up. A quick spin through the Wayback Machine reveals that the website’s previous iteration, which included sections about the chef’s restaurants, recipes, cookbooks, and philanthropic efforts, remained stagnant after sexual harassment allegations against Batali came out in December 2017. The site design also remained unchanged throughout the months-long divestment process, during which the chef sold off his shares of what was formerly the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group.
The site was refreshed sometime over the summer with the new Batali photo, which puts the man front and center. In a portrait that takes up the whole of the screen, he wears a vest — this one worn canvas, instead of his signature fleece — and a tight-lipped near smile. The kitchen on either side of his standing form is blurred out. And while the pre-allegations website, which seemingly stuck around until at least March 2019, was “made in collaboration with CMYK,” this new version notes scripts by GBIT Media with a 2019 copyright.
According to an April 2018 New York Times story, Batali spent the months following the accusations of unwanted touching “examining his blind spots” and preparing for some future venture in which his personality would take a backseat. One proposed scenario had him creating a new company with a woman in charge. By December 2018, Batali would tell a New York Magazine reporter that “I’m not going to live my life in public anymore,” and giving Fox News a statement that he was “not attempting a professional comeback.”
But it’s almost inevitable, if extremely disheartening, that the chefs accused of sexual misconduct since the start of the #MeToo movement will attempt comebacks. Bay Area restaurateur Charlie Hallowell sold his restaurants, but opened a new one. Ken Friedman eventually came to the realization that he would need to remove himself from the Spotted Pig in order for the restaurant to survive being associated with allegations of his own sexual misconduct, but this doesn’t mean his career is over — the former restaurateur is still planning a Long Island antiques shop. And this brief internet sleuthing seems to indicate that Mario Batali’s second act, as the New York Times put it back in April, was in the works.