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As allegations of sexual misconduct have rippled through the food world, Tom Colicchio has not kept quiet — even penning a blunt open letter about the serious matter.
And this week, as Mario Batali became the subject of scandal and stepped down from this company, Colicchio again communicated his opinions openly on social media. "And no one should be surprised," he tweeted.
Following up, Coliccho clarified on Twitter and in an interview with Food & Wine that he did not mean to imply that everyone already know, but rather than an investigation had been underway for weeks, and multiple sources within the food industry had been contacted by reporters with questions.
As well, he said, Batali's behavior was well documented in the Bill Buford book, Heat, which is now more than a decade old. In the book, Buford describes Batali speaking to a female server: "It's not fair I have this view all to myself when you bend over. For dessert, would you take off your blouse for the others?"
According to Food and Wine, Colicchio said, "It's not like it was discussed, or we all knew," the chef says. "But the assumption is: It's going on everywhere. It's pretty clear that this isn’t an issue for just the restaurant industry. It’s a problem with our culture."
The larger cultural issue of sexism in the kitchen is a matter he tackled in his open letter to male chefs, dated November 8.
"This is where it starts — with women who are abused telling their stories," Colicchio told Food and Wine. "If you were a woman and you felt sexually harassed in the workplace, what tools did you have? You can go to an HR department and they usually just 'dealt with it,' but you couldn’t really sue someone. You had to pay for that, and the penalties aren’t that great in a civil law suit. What recourse did women have? All of a sudden we’re seeing the recourse. We’re seeing men get fired and losing their power. That’s the recourse. And that's where we have to keep going."
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