Chef at Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant steps down amid allegations of sexual misconduct, 'lewdly' stroking meats

Nearly one month after Mario Batali stepped away from his restaurant group amid accusations of sexual harassment, his empire continues to crumble.

Frank Langello, the executive chef at Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in NYC’s Greenwich Village — described as the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group’s “flagship” restaurant — is no longer employed at the eatery following reports that he would bully employees, make sexually suggestive comments, and  “lewdly” stroke meats down by his crotch in front of female staffers, Eater reports.

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The Batali & Bastianich Hospitality group did not confirm the reason for Langello’s departure to Fox News, but sources for Eater claim his firing was directly related to the allegations. Langella had worked at Babbo since 2000, and served as its executive chef since 2002.

According to multiple former employees who worked under Langello at Babbo, the chef generally ran an “abusive” kitchen environment, which was described as a “rat’s nest of harassment” by former staffers who spoke with Eater in December. In addition to making sexually charged comments and rubbing steaks in a suggestive manner, a former employee said Langello would often stick his fingers into the female employees’ ears, and added that he seemed to enjoy “humiliating” people.

Several people who worked under Langello also claimed that Babbo’s kitchen was the “most abusive” they had ever encountered, according to Eater.

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Langello, however, had also been accused of similar behavior in the past.

In 2012, Stephanie Capsolas, a server at Babbo, sued Langello for sexual harassment, claiming he would direct lewd comments and gestures at her “several times a week,” the New York Post reported. The case was ultimately dismissed, Eater reported, although the Batali & Bastianich restaurant group had said Langello was provided with sexual harassment training as a result.

A representative for the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group tells Fox News that they are planning to implement "strategic changes" amid the allegations.

"Though we cannot yet address specific initiatives, we are in the process of making strategic changes in an effort to improve the culture of our organization," said a representative for the group.

A spokesman also confirmed that Rob Zwirz, the chef at the Batali & Bastianich group's Lupa restaurant, will take over as executive chef at Babbo.

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Babbo’s kitchen has also been hit with complaints in the past. Former pastry chef Isaac Franco Nova, who is openly gay, sued Batali, Joe Bastianich, andsome of his Babbo co-workers in 2017 for discrimination. The restaurant’s notoriously tough kitchen was also the subject of a book called “Heat,” which too touched on some of the sexual harassment issues at Babbo, according to Eater.

Batali himself announced he would be stepping away from the “day-to-day operations” of his entire restaurant group in early December, following a report in Eater detailing multiple allegations of sexual harassment. He was subsequently axed from his co-hosting gig on ABC’s “The Chew,” and a revival of his “Molto Mario” series on the Food Network was canceled.