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    Celebrity chef Mario Batali accused of sexual misconduct, steps away from restaurant empire

    Celebrity chef Mario Batali spoke at his Eataly food court and stores in the Prudential Center in 2016.
    Lane Turner/Globe Staff
    Celebrity chef Mario Batali spoke at his Eataly food court and stores in the Prudential Center in 2016.

    Several women have stepped forward to lodge sexual misconduct allegations against famed chef Mario Batali, the television personality who owns dozens of restaurants including Eataly, the Italian marketplace at the Prudential Center, according to a bombshell report published Monday on a food website.

    The report from Eater says four women say Batali groped them and in one instance forced a victim to straddle him. Three of the accusers are former employees.

    In a statement to Eater, Batali said he’s stepping away from his business empire and that the allegations “match up” with his past behavior.

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    “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” he told the site. “Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.

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    “I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses.”

    Batali’s hugely popular Eataly in Back Bay includes the restaurant Terra. He also owns Babbo Pizzeria on Fan Pier.

    Batali, known for his big personality and signature orange crocs, has also co-hosted an ABC program called “The Chew” since 2011, and the network told Eater that he will remain off the air “while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention.”

    Another celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, began cryptically tweeting about the allegations Sunday before the story broke, in the context of rocker Josh Homme, behaving badly during a concert over the weekend.

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    “Waking up in Bhutan to the Josh Homme . . . and still in the WTF!!!??!! Phase,” Bourdain tweeted. “Senseless. And a weak . . . apology. And Monday, I’m afraid, isn’t going to get any better.”

    Bourdain continued with that thought, tweeting:

    “It’s where you stand when the people you care about and admire do awful things that matters. Keeping head down and hoping it goes away? No.”

    He later added Monday morning, “It’s Batali. And it’s bad.”

    Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.