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Posted at 10:23 AM ET, 11/10/2011

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

Mario Batali speaks during the Time Person of the Year panel discussion. (Jemal Countess - Getty Images for Time Warner)
Celebrity chef Mario Batali essentially bit the hand that feeds him Tuesday when he invoked the names of two dictators to express his disgust with the actions of the banking industry.

At Time magazine’s panel to discuss who was the most influential person this year, Forbes reported that “The Chew” co-host said he believes the banking industry and “their disregard for the people that  they’re supposed to be working for” has had the largest impact on the world:

“So the ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys.”

Forbes reporter Jeff Bercovici originally quoted Batali as saying, “Their evil has had a huge effect on the world,” as referring to bankers. He later corrected this with an updated transcript. Batali tweeted that Bercovici, “deliberately misquoted me for a pr land grab #shameonforbes.”

In any case, the damage was done. Members of the financial industry who can afford to dine at Batali’s expensive New York eateries began canceling reservations, according to Eater, with others promising to boycott, Forbes reports.

Batali, who apparently learned nothing from the Hitler hubbub that recently surrounded Susan Sarandon and Hank Williams Jr., has since apologized.

“To remove any ambiguity about my appearance at yesterday’s Time Person of the Year panel, I want to apologize for my remarks,” Batali tweeted. “It was never my intention to equate our banking industry with Hitler and Stalin, two of the most evil, brutal dictators in modern history.”

By  |  10:23 AM ET, 11/10/2011

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