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Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Settles Lawsuit With His Waitstaff
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Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Settles Lawsuit With His Waitstaff


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel. Mario Batali had better keep his hands out of the tip jar. The celebrity chef and restaurateur has settled a lawsuit that charged him with skimming tips. It was filed by former waiters and bartenders at his famous restaurants. He and a business partner will pay them more than $5 million.

NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: If he's not at one of his 16 restaurants in New York, Las Vegas or Los Angeles, Mario Batali is easily found on TV these days. One day, he's making a fan favorite with his co-hosts on the new daytime show, "The Chew."


MARIO BATALI: So, here, we're going to make meatloaf, which in Italian, means (foreign language spoken).

KAHN: The next, he's having a friendly cook-off with a rival celebrity chef on "Good Morning America."


ROBIN ROBERTS: In one corner, we have Mario Batali, ladies and gentlemen. In the other corner, we have Emeril Lagasse.

KAHN: Or he's traipsing through Europe for public TV, sporting his reddish ponytail, baggy shorts and not-so-fashionable clogs with celeb food enthusiast Gwyneth Paltrow.


BATALI: We were off and rolling on the Spanish road trip of a lifetime.

KAHN: For Batali, the legal road this week ended in a New York federal court. According to the workers' complaint, Batali and his partner, Joe Bastianich, took their hard-earned tips - in some cases, as much as 5 percent of nightly wine sales, to supplement their own profits.

A lawyer for the employees did not return NPR's call. A lawyer for Batali and Bastianich would only say that the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.

This isn't the first time Batali has found himself in the non-foodie spotlight. Recently, on a panel convened by Time magazine, Batali compared modern-day bankers to some of last century's most despotic men.


BATALI: So the way the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed, and taken most of it into their own hands, is as good as Stalin or Hitler.

KAHN: After some in the financial industry threatened to boycott, Batali apologized. Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold says he's not worried that Batali's current woes will cause any lasting damage.

JONATHAN GOLD: Mario's not just a celebrity chef; his success doesn't lie in the TV things he does. It's - he's a chef, an extremely gifted one.

KAHN: A judge must sign off on the $5.25 million settlement before it's final. That's expected to happen by this summer.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News.

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