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All We Can Eat
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 03/09/2012

Mario Batali to pay $5.25 million in settlement

Celebrity chef and “The Chew” co-host Mario Batali and his business partner, Joseph
Celebrity chef Mario Batali photographed on the set of "The Chew." (Jon Vachon for The Washington Post)
Bastianich, have agreed to pay $5.25 million to current and former employees for bilking a portion of their tips.

As many as 1,100 waiters, bartenders, captains and other staff members of his New York restaurants including Babbo and Del Posto may be compensated, the Associated Press reports.

The class-action suit was filed in a Manhattan federal court in 2010, with claims that Batali and Bastianich had a standard policy of deducting as much as 4 to 5 percent of the tip pool each night.

“Mr. Batali, Mr. Bastianich, and their restaurants unlawfully confiscated a portion of their workers’ hard-earned tips in order to supplement their own profits,” the complaint reads.

The settlement is subject to approval by a federal judge.

The event follows other recent bad publicity, namely Batali’s comparison of bankers to Hitler during a Time magazine panel discussion in November. Batali later apologized for the statement, following a slew of canceled reservations at some of his New York restaurants by members of the financial industry.

However, former LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold (who’s now at the Los Angeles Times) told NPR he doesn’t expect the incidents to cause any lasting damage to “The Chew” co-star’s career.

“Mario is not just a celebrity chef. His success does not lie in the TV things he does. He's a chef, and an extremely gifted one,” Gold said.

Despite the settlement, Batali has sound advice to offer up-and-coming chefs and restaurateurs. Post multiplatform editor Jim Webster discovered as much while he escorted the celeb on a private restaurant crawl last month in Tampa, Fla. Batali dispensed tips on expansion and branding, raw ingredients and the local food movement. Read more on Webster’s ad­ven­ture with Batali.

More on Mario Batali:

Batali’s Eataly may be close to securing a D.C. location

Mario Batali: I didn’t intend to compare bankers to Hitler and Stalin

The lamb brains are nice, but Batali just wants to hang out

By Cara Kelly  |  12:00 PM ET, 03/09/2012

 
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