Skip to main content
Cooking tips and recipes, plus food news and views.
The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

James Corden admits to ‘rude,’ ‘ungracious’ remarks at Balthazar

James Corden attends the BFI London Film Festival this month. (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images/BFI)

James Corden faced a choice when hosting the first episode of his “Late Late Show” since last week, when he became the center of controversy after the owner of a New York restaurant accused him of abusive behavior toward his staff.

Apology or excuse?

The “Carpool Karaoke” funnyman chose a little bit of both, though he did admit to being “ungracious” and making a rude remark to a server who brought his wife an incorrectly prepared meal at the Balthazar, which owner Keith McNally described in an Instagram post last week.

“When you make a mistake, you’ve got to take responsibility,” Corden said in the opening of his CBS show that aired early Tuesday morning.

The TL; DR recap of the drama surrounding the late-night host began last Monday, when McNally, who has a reputation for being provocative, announced on Instagram that he had banned Corden from his Manhattan-by-way-of-Paris bistro, Balthazar. The restaurateur detailed two instances in which the comedian had allegedly been abusive to his staff, including a recent visit during which Corden was said to have yelled at a server over his wife’s meal, an all-yolk omelet that had not been made as instructed.

James Corden sent back an egg yolk omelet — so we tried to make one

Corden, McNally said, had sent the omelet back because it contained a small amount of egg white. The kitchen remade the dish but sent it back out with the wrong side, prompting Corden to yell. “You can’t do your job! You can’t do your job!” Corden said, according to McNally, who cited a manager’s report about the incident. “Maybe I should go into the kitchen and cook the omelet myself!”

Hours after McNally’s initial post, though, all seemed copacetic when he posted that Corden had apologized and was once again welcome.

But the peace didn’t last long: In an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, Corden seemed to deny the accusations. “I haven’t done anything wrong, on any level,” he said, prompting McNally to reinstate his beef. “If he goes one step further and apologizes to the 2 servers he insulted, I’ll let him eat for free at Balthazar for the next 10 years,” McNally wrote.

In his opening monologue on Tuesday, Corden offered a more innocent account of the scene than what McNally had suggested. He said his wife specified that the omelet be made with all yolks because she has a “serious allergy,” which they had explained to the waitstaff.

Corden said his wife was served food she was allergic to, and they sent it back without any static. “As her meal came wrong to the table the third time, in the heat of the moment, I made a sarcastic, rude comment about cooking it myself,” he said. “It is a comment I deeply regret.”

Corden also offered an explanation for his initial denial that he hadn’t done anything wrong, indicating that he had done some reflecting on the incident. “Because I didn’t shout or scream or call anyone names … I’ve been walking around thinking that I haven’t done anything wrong, but the truth is, like, I have,” he said. “I made a rude comment, and it was wrong. It was an unnecessary comment. It was ungracious to the server.”

Corden said he called McNally to talk it out and thought they had “cleared the air … privately.” But, he said, “at that point, the story was out there, and people were upset.”

The late-night host, who is leaving his longtime gig next year, indicated he might take McNally up on the offer that would grant him free meals.

“I love that restaurant, I love the staff there, and I hope I’m allowed in one day so when I’m back in New York, I can go there,” he said. “And apologize in person, which is something I will absolutely do.”

Later in the day, McNally acknowledged Corden’s “gracious” mea culpa, and once again, all hatchets seemed buried. “It takes a real man to do this,” McNally wrote in a Tuesday afternoon Instagram post. “In the past, I’ve behaved much worse than Corden, but wasn’t man enough to apologize.”

McNally said he had lifted the ban he had placed on Corden from dining at Balthazar, and instead, seemingly jokingly imposed one on himself. “I’m going to ban myself from Balthazar for 2 weeks,” he wrote. “People who live in Glass Houses …”

This story has been updated.