Chefs Lidia Bastianich and Nancy Silverton Taking on Leadership Roles at B&B Hospitality Group: Report
Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group is getting an all-female face lift in its leadership. Los Angeles-based chef Nancy Silverton and New York-based chef Lidia Bastianich are set to take on leadership roles to help promote a safer and more positive work space in restaurants formerly run by the disgraced Mario Batali and his partner, Joe Bastianich.
Both Silverton and Lidia Bastianich (who is Joe Bastianich’s mother) are accomplished chefs in their own right, and both have partnered with B&B on previous projects. Silverton in particular enjoys a reputation as a champion of women.
The changes come in the wake of a new wide-ranging exclusive report filled with shocking details of the restaurant group’s culture. Eater — which broke the Batali sexual misconduct allegations — reports that staffers at B&B Hospitality Group restaurants claim that “sleazy” behavior from both Batali and Joe Bastianich inspired many of their employees to act similarly.
Brianna Pintens, who worked for Joe Bastianich and Batali at Michelin-starred Del Posto, claims to have been harassed by a line cook. But when she told the manager, she says she blew her off.
So on September 7, just weeks after the line cook allegedly lunged at her, squeezed her in a bear hug, and told her that her appearance was “driving me crazy,” Pintens quit. She is one of seven current and former employees at Del Posto who told Eater they were either subject to or witnessed degrading comments toward women and inappropriate touching from coworkers.
Since Eater’s first exposé against Batali, the celebrity chef has stepped down from his restaurant empire and was fired from ABC’s The Chew. On December 16, the (formerly) orange Croc-sporting cook issued an apology in which he included a complimentary cinnamon roll recipe. But according to current and former employees across the B&B board — Babbo, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, Lupa, Del Posto, Carnevino — the misconduct stretches back 15 years, and Batali isn’t the only one to blame.
Among the highlights of Eater’s report are new statements by Batali, Bastianich, and the company.
“I now realize that my completely inappropriate behavior impacted the behavior of others who worked in the restaurants. I am truly sorry and am very ashamed. It was never my intention to humiliate, cause discomfort or pain to anyone in the operations in any way,” Batali told Eater.
“I’m proud of what our teams accomplish every day, and I’ve always tried to show respect for them and their work,” Joe Bastianich, who is still with the restaurant group, told Eater. “It pains me that some employees feel differently, and I’m reexamining my own behavior to ensure that everyone I work with feels that respect.” Bastianich admitted that he had “heard [Batali] say inappropriate things” to employees and “should have done more” to confront it.
B&B Hospitality Group told Eater: “We have fallen short in creating an environment where every employee feels comfortable reporting complaints. And we have fallen short at times when enforcing our policies. We are already taking steps to change.”
Other high-ranking chefs accused of sexual misconduct just this year include the Spotted Pig’s Ken Friedman, Top Chef alum Johnny Iuzzini, the Plaza Hotel’s Todd English, and New Orleans’ John Besh. The scope of the problem makes the need for reform perhaps the most important of the 20 lessons we learned about food in 2017.