A rising star sommelier currently working at Nolita restaurant the Usual is being accused of sexually assaulting multiple women in the wine world, the Times reported today. Anthony Cailan, brother to the Usual’s chef Alvin, denies the allegations, which include forcibly kissing and touching a prospective employee.
Eater has reached out to a rep for the Usual for further comment.
Though Cailan’s not a big name in the broader New York restaurant scene, he’s gained a lot of cred in the wine world, primarily from his work in Los Angeles at restaurants such as Eggslut, Bestia, and Animal. He moved to New York last year for the Usual, an international comfort food restaurant at the Nolitan Hotel.
His reputation is such that four women tell the Times that they feared their careers would be impacted if they reported the alleged misconduct. They decided to speak out after industry magazine Wine & Spirits put Cailan on the cover of its October “Best New Somms” issue.
The women’s stories are all similar: They allege that Cailan invited them up to his apartment late at night and then became sexually aggressive. Raquel Makler, who worked for Cailan in Los Angeles and moved to New York after he asked her to come work at the Usual, claims he “forcibly kissed and touched her, pulled off her clothes and repeatedly tried to penetrate her while she was frozen with panic” last year, the Times writes. Sarah Fernandez met Cailan while she worked as a sales rep for a wine company, and in June, he similarly invited her to his apartment late at night and “became sexually aggressive,” she alleges to the Times.
His behavior allegedly started back in Los Angeles, though — as far back as 2014. The owner of Domaine LA, a wine retailer where he used to work, emailed him asking him to stay away from her businesses because she’d heard about his treatment of women.
Alvin Cailan, who is best known for his cult-favorite LA restaurant Eggslut, allegedly did not believe the accusations when a fellow chef told him.
The Usual opened last July and has since gained accolades for its wine list, turning into an industry hangout. The wine world, though, is a notoriously male-dominated one where harassment and misconduct is allegedly rampant.
Stay tuned for more.
This article has been updated to reflect that Makler was a prospective staffer.