News – “Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich Fostered a ‘Boys’ Club’ Culture of Misconduct at Restaurants, Dozens Allege”

ny.eater.comIt’s been five months, and Brianna Pintens is still not sure what was more revolting: being grabbed by a line cook at Del Posto, where she worked as a server, or the way that a manager dismissed her complaint.

“[She] rolled her eyes at me,” she told Eater. “I told her what happened, and that he’d been asking me out and making comments about my looks for a year, to the point that it became harassing, and her response was, ‘You realize you’re turning this into an HR situation. Do you really want to do this?’” On September 7, after just over a year working there, and weeks after the line cook lunged at her, squeezed her in a bear hug, and told her that her appearance was “driving me crazy,” Pintens quit.

Pintens is one of seven current and former employees of Del Posto — Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Michelin-starred restaurant, often considered the company’s fine dining crown jewel— who told Eater that they either endured or witnessed degrading and dismissive comments toward women, and, in some cases, inappropriate touching from coworkers.

Last week, in the wake of an Eater investigation into Batali’s alleged sexual misconduct, the celebrity chef stepped away from his restaurant empire and was fired as the co-host of The Chew. Even though Batali is no longer involved in day-to-day operations at his restaurants, dozens of current and former employees across the B&B empire, from restaurants including Babbo, Otto, Lupa, Del Posto, and Las Vegas’s B&B Ristorante and Carnevino, told Eater that issues of misconduct span the last 15 years, and that the problems run deeper than one man.

Staffers allege that Batali and his longtime business partner Joe Bastianich, who remains involved in the restaurants, are the architects of a male-dominated “boys’ club” environment that, in some ways, has become synonymous with restaurant culture as a whole. The restaurant world is known for late-night, loose, sometimes wild culture, but staffers told Eater that Batali and Bastianich epitomized the archetype of rich, powerful restaurateurs who party hard with beautiful women and celebrities, and indulge in what several former employees called the most debaucherous behavior they had ever witnessed.

The partners’ behavior laid the foundation for myriad issues, staffers claim: Problem employees who degraded staffers with sexual language or physical touching stayed at the company for years — even earning promotions — while women and men who experienced misconduct felt that they had little recourse.

Complaining, staffers say, was implicitly discouraged; most of the dozens of staffers who spoke with Eater feared repercussions, like being ostracized, fired, or even blacklisted from the restaurant industry entirely, if they filed formal grievances. The fear of being banned from other employment remains; many people spoke only under the condition of anonymity, though Eater verified their identities and employment at the restaurants.

Outstanding read that touches on everything going on in today’s climate and culture…just happy that we’re finally starting to see some changes and some progress. 

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