Mario Batali Hints At A Comeback 6 Years After Legal Troubles

mario batali
mario batali - Scott Eisen/Getty Images

In his first Instagram post since 2017, disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali has offered up a possible preview of what the future holds for him. The post, an image of a dish of pasta, reads "Mario Batali Virtual Events Coming soon," and includes an email address. What form the virtual events will take is anyone's guess as no other details were included. There were, though, more than a few positive comments on the post, including from Chef Michael Abdoo and Jimmy John's founder Jimmy John Liautaud.

Batali was once at the top of the culinary world with restaurants in New York and Las Vegas, a stake in the gourmet Italian market chain Eataly, and shows on the Food Network and ABC. His approach to Italian cuisine was catalytic for a move beyond stereotypical American "red sauce" joints and a fuller appreciation of the cuisine. But accusations surfaced in 2017 that Batali had sexually assaulted a number of women at both his restaurants and other locations. He settled two of the lawsuits brought against him, while another was dismissed following a bench trial.

Batali's fall from grace was swift; his portion of the Eataly operation was purchased from him in 2019, and he was ousted from the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group that oversaw his famous restaurants, like Babbo, Lupa, and Del Posto.

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Batali Quietly Gets Back Into Restaurants

mario batali instagram post
mario batali instagram post - Mario Batali/Instagram

While little is known about Batali's plans for the aforementioned "virtual events" and his NYC empire is completely out of his control, there is one window into the ponytailed chef's future that we do know a bit more about. Before his downfall, Batali was a well-known resident and proponent of Northern Michigan, specifically the bucolic village of Northport on the Leelanau Peninsula. His Instagram account still includes many images of his time spent by the Grand Traverse Bay, and it is presumably where he went to lay low as his reputation took a beating.

Batali is dipping his toes back in the culinary water in his adopted backyard as a minority investor and owner of Common Good Bakery, a shop with two locations in Northern Michigan's Traverse City. As the bakery grows to include wine and dinner service, Batali has offered his money and the considerable clout he still has to help Common Good -- and the region -- become more nationally recognized as a food destination. Additionally, Batali and Common Good plan to program culinary events featuring celebrity chefs with a stated aim of mitigating food insecurity in the region.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.