Celebrity chef John Besh has been edited out of an episode of “Top Chef” set to air in January because of sexual harassment allegations against him, a Bravo network spokeswoman told The Washington Post late Tuesday. Besh had served as guest judge on the program for years.
In late October, he stepped down from the New Orleans-based restaurant group he founded and co-owned after more than two dozen women alleged his company fostered a culture of sexual harassment. Some 25 women told the Times-Picayune they were victims of sexual harassment while working for the Besh Restaurant Group, which included 12 restaurants across two states and employed about 1,200 people.
Besh admitted in a statement to having a consensual relationship with an employee but denied allegations and knowledge of misconduct.
Days after the allegations, American Public Television pulled Besh’s two cooking programs from its rotation, the Times-Picayune reported.
Tom Colicchio, lead judge on “Top Chef,” told Eater that the network “worked really hard” to edit Besh out of the episode. “Bravo to Bravo for making this decision,” Colicchio said. “. . . It’s great that they spent the time and did the right thing.”
Colicchio has been particularly outspoken about sexual harassment in the restaurant industry since the allegations. Soon after allegations about Besh became public, Colicchio wrote an essay on Medium titled “An Open Letter to (Male) Chefs,” which decried the “rampant harassment in the restaurant industry.”
“This isn’t just a matter of a few bad eggs and we all know it. For every John Besh splashed across Page Six, we can assume hundreds, if not thousands, more with kitchens just like the ones his female employees described,” wrote Colicchio, who co-founded New York City’s famed Gramercy Tavern and other restaurants.
“And no one should be surprised,” he said.
He later clarified the tweet in an interview with Food & Wine, saying, “It’s not like it was discussed, or we all knew. 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.”
Padma Lakshmi, another regular “Top Chef” judge, has also been outspoken about sexual harassment. Recently, she has repeatedly praised women who have come forward with allegations.
For example, she posted a note on Instagram after hosting a cooking segment on the “Today” show on Nov. 29, the day former host Matt Lauer was fired for what NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack called “inappropriate sexual behavior.”
In the post, she said the news saddened her but, “while this is a painful period in our cultural history, it is a good and necessary purging of one of the most harmful aspects of the ‘old boys club’. There is always pain when the thorn gets pulled out of the flesh.”
And in a recent essay for the Hollywood Reporter, she wrote, “It’s been a sickening fall season with hardly anyone worth rooting for, except those women who were brave enough to open their mouths about sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood and beyond.”
More from Morning Mix: