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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Anthony Bourdain Calls the "Male-Dominated" Food Industry "Abusive" and "Cruel"

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the chef calls such behavior rampant in restaurants as well.

By Alesandra Dubin

The allegations against Harvey Weinstein revealed (to those who didn’t already know) the prevalence of sexual harassment (and much worse) in Hollywood. But the entertainment industry is hardly alone when it comes to the existence, and longtime tolerance, of such behavior.

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Watch the Top Chef Season 21 premiere on Wednesday, March 20 at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

Anthony Bourdain, who raged against "pimp" Weinstein on Twitter after it was revealed his girlfriend Asia Argento was among the mogul’s accusers, is now speaking out about the ugly realities within the food business. 

Offering comment about allegations of sexual harassment made against chef John Besh’s eponymous restaurant group,  Bourdain said the report “disgusted” but didn’t surprise him, according to People.

“Look, I know what I read in the papers and what I read in the papers is a pretty f***ing gruesome story,” he told Slate. “I don’t know the facts of the case or anything with the Besh company, but the fact that it’s a company this size and that there was not a credible avenue, no trustworthy credible office or institution in this big company for women to report or to complain with any confidence that their complaints would be addressed, this is, it’s an indictment of the system.”

The chef stepped down last week after more than two dozen employees said they had been victimized when they worked at the company.

Bourdain told Slate that the food industry has always been dominated by men, and abuse is common.

“There are a lot of chefs still walking around who came up through that system,” he said. “Éric Ripert talked about how he used to be that guy. Then one day he realized, look, I’m miserable and everybody working with me is miserable. This is just not f***ing working. And took a hard look at themselves. But the system itself, from the very beginning, was abusive, was male-dominated and cruel beyond imagining.”

For his own part, despite his fiery disposition, Bourdain said he’d never commit — or stand for — such behavior himself. “I would do the classic, throw plates on the ground. If waiters or waitresses for that matter displeased me I would rail at the heavens, curse, scream. But I like to think I never made anyone feel uncomfortable, creeped out, or coerced, or sexualized in the workplace,” he said. “I’ve certainly fired people, even back in the ’80s: If somebody was taking their personal business out on a female employee, or creeping on an employee, they were gone. They were f***ing gone. It was just not something I could live with.”

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