Penrose Chef Charlie Hallowell Accused Of Sexual Harassment By 17 Former Employees

Oakland chef Charlie Hallowell has stepped away from day-to-day operations at his restaurants after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. In a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, 17 former employees of Pizzaiolo, Boot & Shoe Service, and Penrose describe a demoralizing work environment where his "indecent propositions and about of his power were the norm," in addition to a "near-constant stream of sexually explicit language."

Former waitress Molly Surbridge claims that during a meeting at Penrose regarding a promotion with a wine buyer, the 44-year-old cut her off mid-sentence to say he "really wanted to have sex with me. And that he just wanted to make sure I knew that."

Others allege he often made perverse comparisons between food and the female anatomy. Former Boot & Shoe bartender Jessica Moncada recalled him saying, "If a pizza dough is formed properly, it should feel like a fat girl's tit."

The restaurateur says his behavior was "unfiltered and often completely inappropriate" and that he was "deeply ashamed and saddened."

In an email to the San Francisco Chronicle, he said: "I can see very clearly that I have participated in and allowed an uncomfortable workplace for women. For this I am deeply ashamed and so very sorry. We have come to a reckoning point in the history of male bosses behaving badly, and I believe this reckoning and stand behind it."

The statement continues: "I understand I cannot right the past wrongs, and at the same time, I take full responsibility for all my actions."

Hallowell's restaurant group has reportedly invited an outside human resources consultant to perform a full investigation into the company.

Other chefs and restaurateurs accused of sexual misconduct this year include The Spotted Pig's Ken Friedman, The Chew's Mario Batali, Top Chef alum Johnny Iuzzini, Plaza Hotel's Todd English, and New Orleans' John Besh — making the dire need for reform in the restaurant culture one of the top 20 lessons we learned about food in 2017.