Note: This article contains graphic language.
Today, two former employees of Gruppo Chiarello, the restaurant group run by celebrity chef Michael Chiarello filed lawsuits against both the chef and the company for sexual harassment. Eater San Francsico reports that Katherine Page and Asja Sever, two former employees of Coqueta filed the suit. They allege that Chiarello, executive chef Dominick Maietta, and other managers created an environment of abuse and sexual harassment.
Examples include a policy of “If you don’t want to f*ck them, don’t hire them.” The rest of the suit includes a ton of other graphic details, including the following:
For example, CHEF CHIARELLO frequently made inappropriate statements to the entire staff, including PAGE and SEVER, such as, “Martinis are like tits. One is too few, three is too many”. On at least one occasion, he compared a new sandwich on the COQUETA menu to a vagina by stating that the sandwich looked liked a “woman’s underparts” while making a triangle with his hands and placing it over his crotch.
And that’s the least of it. You can read the entire suit on Eater SF.
There is also a class-action suit that claims that the restaurant did not pay wages and overtime, manipulated clocks and time sheets and that the front of house staff was required to split tips with kitchen staff.
Chiarello’s publicist responded with a statement:
Mr. Chiarello is very upset by the allegations made by two former employees. The allegations are not only upsetting to him, they are also against his core beliefs.
Mr. Chiarello strongly believes that a great restaurant cannot really be great without an outstanding team. Throughout his career, he has served as a mentor to the people who work with him and helped them climb the ladder in their careers. This claim flies in the face of who Mr. Chiarello is and how he has lived his life. Mr. Chiarello is the son of immigrant family, a true American success story, who became the acclaimed chef he is today by using the skills he learned from watching his mother cook when he was a young boy and caring about the people with whom he worked.
We are also disappointed that neither Coqueta nor Mr. Chiarello were provided a copy of the lawsuit prior to the former employees’ attorneys sending it to the media. Mr. Chiarello intends to vigorously defend himself, his reputation and his team against these unfounded claims in a court of law.
Chiarello is best known as the host of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello on the Food Network.
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