A 28-year-old Massachusetts woman is suing celebrity chef Mario Batali, accusing him of forcibly kissing and groping her while the two were at a Boston restaurant in April 2017.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, alleges that when Natali Tene saw Batali in the restaurant she took a photo with her phone’s camera. Bataly is behind the massive Eataly complex in the Prudential Center and also cohosted ABC’S “The Chew” at Towne Stove and Spirits in the Back Bay.
Batali noticed Tene and invited her to take a selfie with him.
But when she approached him, “Batali grabbed and kissed Ms. Tene’s face, rubbed her breasts, grabbed her buttocks, put his hands between her legs and groped her groin area, and kept forcefully squeezing her face into his as he kissed her repeatedly,” according to the complaint.
“Without asking her permission or giving her any warning, and without having received any indication that she had any sexual interest in him whatsoever, which she did not, Batali sexually assaulted her,” the complaint alleges. “Batali’s actions . . . were unwanted and disgusting, and made Ms. Tene feel shocked and highly uncomfortable.”
Tene is seeking unknown damages “for the severe emotional distress she suffered,” including anxiety, self-doubt, and “a specific fear of being assaulted and/or touched in an inappropriate manner in public,” according to the complaint.
Tene’s lawyers, Eric Baum and Matthew Fogelman, called their client’s experience “a nightmare.”
Batali could not be reached for comment.
Batali, who had owned dozens of restaurants worldwide — including Eataly at the Pru and Babbo Pizzeria on Fan Pier — stepped away from his restaurant empire in December 2017 after several women lodged sexual misconduct allegations against him on the website Eater. The allegations in the Eater story revealed a pattern of alleged groping, sexual innuendo, and other inappropriate and aggressive behavior over the course of several decades. In a statement to Eater at the time, Batali said that “much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.”
The lawsuit filed in Boston on Wednesday cites that report, as well as a “60 Minutes” segment that aired in May, in which several women who worked at a New York City restaurant frequented by Batali alleged that he tried to grope them.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.