NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A celebrity chef with more than dozen restaurants in New York City is at the center of sexual misconduct allegations.

Mario Batali is stepping down from his restaurant empire and TV show after multiple accusations over a period of at least 20 years.

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The online site Eater New York released an article Monday morning, reporting that at least four women alleged Batali touched them inappropriately.

The alleged behavior took place over two decades, and the celebrity chef isn’t denying it.

In a statement the 57-year-old apologized and wrote in part, “much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses.”

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, the alleged incidents involved Batali groping one woman’s chest, another former employee said over the course of two years, he repeatedly grabbed her from behind and held her tightly against his body.

Ironically, back in October, Batali spoke at the Fast Company Innovation Festival about combating sexual harassment.

“You need a complete workplace free of fear that harbors an excellent feeling of the potential for collaboration and creativity,” he said.

Batali has stepped away from daily operations of his business. He’s also off ABC’s cooking show ‘The Chew’ as they review the allegations.

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“While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct,” the network said in a statement.

The Food Network had plans to relaunch Molto Mario, a show that ran for eight years, but the project has been put on hold.

Batali and his business partner own or part own 14 restaurants in New York including the popular Eataly.

A spokesperson for B&B Hospitality Group said an employee reported inappropriate behavior by Batali in October.

He was reprimanded and required to attend training.

The company’s website is currently down.


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