A new report out today by The Washington Post alleges Mario Batali assaulted an employee at Los Angeles dining icon Osteria Mozza back in 2010, the latest in a series of sexual harassment allegations that have surfaced since yesterday. Batali was a partner with Nancy Silverton in opening the trio of restaurants Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Chi Spacca. As of yesterday, Nancy Silverton announced that Batali has “stepped aside” from any involvement with the Mozza restaurants.
The on-the-record recounting of the assault comes from Mozza special events director Holly Gunderson, who says that Batali showed up already drunk to a private Vanity Fair party and began making crude overtures to her. The Post quotes Batali, via Gunderson, as saying, “I want to see you naked in my hot tub back in the hotel” when walking into the restaurant, followed by Batali actually grabbing her crotch in the middle of the busy dining room later in the evening. The troubling incident was confirmed by a friend that Gunderson confided in at the time.
Batali himself does not disagree with the assessment of the evening, telling the Post:
“I apologize profoundly to the people I have mistreated and hurt. The entire day of events surrounding the party I was the personification of idiocy, a drunken and idiotic fool, with no respect for the staff at Osteria Mozza, the guests nor for the restaurant itself. That behavior was horribly wrong, shameful and degrading and there are no excuses. I wish I could have the day back and do it right. I take full responsibility for my deplorable actions and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or anguish I caused.”
It is also, sadly, far from the only story of sexual harassment and abuse to affect the local restaurant scene today, as The Hearth & Hound’s Ken Friedman faces his own allegations of sexual impropriety at his New York City restaurant The Spotted Pig in a report this morning from the New York Times.