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Mario Batali’s sexual misconduct apology came with a cinnamon roll recipe

On the spectrum of bad apologies for sexual harassment and misconduct, this one seems egregiously awful.

Mario Batali Craig Barritt/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

There are bad apologies for sexual misconduct, and then there are bad apologies accompanied by a cinnamon roll recipe.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali — who stepped away from his restaurants this week after a report detailed his alleged sexual misconduct toward female employees and other women in the restaurant industry — offered the latter in a newsletter Friday.

On Monday, a report from Irene Plagianos and Kitty Greenwald of Eater (which, like, is a Vox Media company), detailed two decades of a pattern of behavior from Batali of inappropriate touching and groping.

Batali, who has been fired from ABC’s The Chew as well, apologized in a statement to Eater and attempted to say sorry again in his newsletter.

“As many of you know, this week there has been some news coverage about some of my past behavior,” he wrote in the newsletter. “I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team. My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”

He went on to tout his enjoyment of “sharing the joys of Italian food, tradition and hospitality” with his fans and then at the end added on a completely tone-deaf postscript: his recipe for pizza dough cinnamon rolls, a “fan favorite” for those “searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast.”

Eater’s story detailed the accounts of four women, three of whom worked for Batali at some point during their careers. In some of the instances, the alleged sexual misconduct occurred at work. Batali was reprimanded for inappropriate behavior at work as recently as October 2017, a spokesperson told Eater, after a restaurant employee filed a formal complaint.

The story also notes that Batali has been associated with sexual misconduct allegations for years. Steve Crane, who co-owned a restaurant with Batali years ago, said that multiple female staff members complained to him about Batali’s behavior, saying he had “grabbed them from behind, consistently made a variety of sexual comments, and engaged in behavior like snapping bra straps.”

The Washington Post also reported on Batali’s alleged behavior this week, including allegations from Holly Gunderson, a special events director for one of Batali’s restaurants who alleges that in 2010 the chef made inappropriate comments to her and then grabbed her:

As she escorted the chef to greet his guests, he turned to Gunderson, she alleges, and “looked me up and down and he said, you know, with a twinkle in his eye, ‘I want to see you naked in my hot tub back in the hotel.’” She said a few people nearby “looked at me like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe he said that about you.’”

When he walked inside, he took selfies with guests, who were enjoying a magic act and martinis. She said she had brushed off the comment and tried to avoid him the rest of the night, but he found her later, while she was leaning over a high-top table. Batali, she alleges, walked by and grabbed her in the crotch.

He put his hand “between my legs, up and under, so his hand went on my vagina outside of my clothes. And then he moved his hand backward. So, you know, under my butt. And then continued walking.”

Batali is not the first person whose apology for sexual misconduct allegations has missed the mark.

As Vox’s Constance Grady pointed out, the Today show’s Matt Lauer focused largely on his regret at being caught instead of the women he allegedly harassed and assaulted. Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) resignation speech included no apology, Vox’s Anna North noted. (He had apologized before.) President Donald Trump dismissed his “grab ’em by the pussy” remarks in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape as “locker room talk.” Kevin Spacey bizarrely half-apologized for his alleged sexual abuse and then came out as gay.

Batali, a popular chef, restaurant owner, cookbook author, and television personality, is apparently trying out a new genre of bad apologies: Okay, I’m sorry, but have you tried my cinnamon rolls?

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