It looks like the revealing of creeps in high places in the post-Weinstein era is nowhere near stopping, as gross story after gross story keeps appearing. This time, the culprit is from the world of elite foodies.
The Spotted Pig – a seasonal British and Italian, Michelin star restaurant – is usually a prime destination in New York City’s West Village, but some pretty unsavory news has surfaced that might change people’s perception of it.
According to the New York Times, The Spotted Pig’s owner Ken Friedman is being accused of sexual misconduct for doing inappropriate things to former employees. Mario Batali, a widely renowned chef and frequent visitor to the restaurant, was also tied to the allegations this week.
Examples of the misconduct from Ken Friedman include ass-grabbing, inviting women to smoke in his car then pinning them against the car door, as well as pulling a woman’s head towards his crotch as she picked up something from the floor.
Mario Batali, also hit with sexual misconduct allegations, was often spotted on the third floor of the restaurant, which several former employees and food industry people recognized as “The Rape Room”.
The disgustingly-named room earned a reputation as being an extremely private, VIP lounge where anything could happen and often did. Guests were allowed to grope female servers, and employees were forced to work until the party ended, even if it went on late into the night.
Batali was known by Spotted Pig staff as “The Red Menace”, as he reportedly groped servers, made harshly inappropriate comments about their breasts, and was even seen to be taking advantage of a woman who appeared to be passed out.
In the instance where Batali allegedly groped the incapacitated woman, Jamie Seet, a former Spotted Pig manager, told The New York Times that she saw it happening through surveillance footage and was, fortunately, able to put a stop to it. These are allegations against not only Batali, but Friedman as well, with several witnesses coming forward to corroborate these accounts.
The Spotted Pig has been around since 2004, and is widely considered a New York institution. Beloved by critics, celebrities, West Village neighbors and tourists alike, it’s a little difficult to tell what will happen next.
There’s no denying that after the initial Times story, the restaurant has become a symbol of the systemic culture of abuse that has plagued, and will continue to plague, the hospitality industry. But as foodies, what do you do? Can you disassociate the art that is food from its chefs, and therefore the people that employ those cooks? That juicy burger didn’t hurt anyone.
At the same time, a lot of employees that were working during that time have nothing to do with the allegations, or even worse, were victims of it. Is boycotting the establisment and taking away their tips fair? What if they were never apart of that culture in any sense and enjoyed their job and the money it paid?
It’s a tough one. The good news (if you can call it that) is that the employees at the Spotted Pig are highly skilled in their respective crafts, and they’ll be in high demand if they were looking to get away from the horrific events at the Spotted Pig.