Nearly a year after Mario Batali was first accused of sexual misconduct, the chef has relocated to northern Michigan to stay out of the spotlight.
In a new article in New York Magazine, writer Eric Konigsberg details the current state of Batali’s restaurants and traveled to the Leelanau Peninsula to interview the former The Chew co-host himself.
Batali, 58, who was accused of inappropriate touching by multiple women, gave up his life in New York City for the quieter town of Northport, where he drives a a bright orange Dodge Power Wagon and still wears his signature outfit of Crocs and a zip-up fleece vest, according to the article.
When Konigsberg tracked Batali down and talked with him at the town’s farmers’ market, he asked how long he plans to stay in the Midwest. “At least until the end of the year,” Batali said.
After Konigsberg acknowledged why it’d be a good place to live, Batali replied: “I’m a lucky man. Well, it’s been a bad year,” he said, “a bad year.”
While Batali may consider himself lucky, his former B&B Hospitality Group business partner Joe Bastianich says business has dropped in their restaurants by 30 percent.
The Sands Casino shut down five of his restaurants on their properties, three in Las Vegas and two in Singapore, according to New York Magazine.
“I’m dealing with a lot of negativity, these closings, to go tell 300 people we’re doing away with their jobs and shutting down their workplace,” Bastianich says. “We used to have 2,000 employees, and now we have 1,500. That’s how many families whose well-being we can no longer provide.”
As first reported by Eater, Batali was accused of groping several different women that involved “inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades.” Three of the accusers worked for Batali, with one former employee claiming that he grabbed her from behind and pressed her against him repeatedly over the course of two years. Two others described incidents where Batali groped them.
In May, it was announced that Batali was under criminal investigation by the New York Police Department for sexual assault, according to a new 60 Minutes report featuring interviews with multiple women leveling allegations against the chef.
“I woke up by myself on the floor, I don’t know where I am, of an empty room, wooden floor,” said a woman, who told 60 Minutes that she was an employee at Batali’s New York City restaurant Babbo at the time. “I see broken bottles. The first thing I think is, ‘I’ve been drugged.’ That was the first thing I thought is, ‘I’ve been — I’ve been assaulted.’”
RELATED VIDEO: Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Multiple Women
Batali responded to the 60 Minutes allegation: “I vehemently deny the allegation that I sexually assaulted this woman. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions.” According to New York Magazine, the investigation is still ongoing.
In a statement to Eater following the initial accusations of misconduct, Batali said: “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”
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