Chef Mario Batali may soon no longer financially benefit from his acclaimed NYC restaurants.
Following accusations of sexual misconduct, the chef took a leave from the restaurants but maintained partnership in popular spots like Babbo and Del Posto. Now, according to a new report in the Times, Batali is in the complicated process of divesting — primarily communicating to longtime partner Joe Bastianich through lawyers in order to untie himself from the businesses. Each restaurant has a different ownership structure; the parent company Batali & Bastianich Restaurant Group manages restaurants but does not technically own them.
“The process of his divestiture is going really well considering how complex it is,” Bastianich tells the Times. “The real point of beginning will be when he departs from the company. That’s ground zero. It’s about creating a post-Mario world.”
The report delves into what Batali plans to do next, with potential scenarios such as creating a new company led by women or launching a program to help displaced Rwandans. Still, the celebrity chef is taking his time, and it’s not yet confirmed what his exact next plans are.
Batali’s one of the best known chefs in the world, with partnerships in Eataly and culinary cred from tons of Italian restaurants, including Babbo, Del Posto, Otto, Lupa, and more. In December, multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct; Batali apologized, saying that the behavior “matched up” with ways he has acted.
The Batali & Bastianich Restaurant Group has already been in the process of nixing mentions of the chefs — with plans to change the name and scrubbing restaurants of his cookbooks. In light of the #MeToo movement, one criticism of restaurants’ responses has been that even as accused men step away from operations, they still tend to financially benefit due to continued ownership stakes. The only other food industry company to already push an owner out is Four Barrel Coffee.
Besides that, the company in general, led by both Batali and Bastianich, has also been accused of fostering a “boys’ club” culture. But Del Posto’s Melissa Rodriguez, one of the most high-profile executive chefs in the company, tells the Times that she was never going to leave the company despite accusations, saying that Batali has “been nothing but a generous individual to me.”
“The biggest concern is for my staff,” she says. “I have a huge staff, and I am not in the business of abandoning people I spend more time with than my family.”