By Jeanette Settembre
He’s cooking again.
After being publicly silent since 2017, when several women accused him of sexual assault and harassment, Mario Batali is planning a controversial comeback with a series of virtual cooking events in early December.
The Post can exclusively report that the 63-year-old celebrity chef is working with veteran media producer Karen Kapnick on an online event called “Molto a Casa” set for December 1 at 5 p.m. ET.
“He’ll be cooking from his Northport, Michigan home,” Kapnick told The Post in an email. “The virtual events are produced in high definition and set up to give the audience a more personalized experience with Mario.”
“Molto a Casa” will be 45-minutes long and see Batali whipping up classic pastas such as bucatini al’ Amatriciana and spaghetti Cacio e Pepe.
It will be followed by two more virtual events, on December 2 and 3 at 11 a.m. ET. Menus for those will be posted on Instagram this week. Each virtual class will include a live question-and-answer session.
Batali first teased his return on October 20. He put a photo of rigatoni in red sauce on Instagram — his first post in six years — along with the caption “Mario Batali Virtual Events coming soon …” and an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three days later, he posted a photos of his two dogs on Lake Michigan and the caption “thinking about cooking with the guidance of my spiritual heroes Willie and Tony.”
Some commenters on the posts applauded the news.
“We would be honored to have you back at De Gustibus,” wrote NYC’s De Gustibus cooking school. Lauded Los Angeles chef Wes Avila responded with a series of celebratory “hands up” emojis.
There were only a few negative comments — such as “Forget it, Dude! You’re in oblivion, get use[sic] to it!” — leading some restaurant industry insiders and chefs to speculate a team was deleting negative comments.
In the wake of the 2017 allegations, Batali was swiftly fired from the ABC talk show “The Chew.” He was eventually divested from Eataly and the empire of beloved restaurants — including Babbo, Lupa and Del Posto — he ran with partner Joe Bastianich. He also cut ties with the Spotted Pig, in which he was an investor. A woman accused Batali of sexually assaulting her, while she was unconscious, in the gastropub’s alleged third-floor “rape room.”
He apologized with a letter that included a recipe for cinnamon rolls. Critics slammed it as “tone deaf” and “insulting to his victims.”
In May 2022, Batali was cleared of criminal charges that he groped a woman at a Boston bar — a major victory for the chef, who waived his right to a trial by jury.
This past January, Eater reported.that Batali had invested in Traverse City, Michigan, bakery Common Good. In a liquor license application, the owners said they “plan[ned] to leverage our partnership with celebrity chef Mario Batali and launch a series of events designed to tackle the problem of food insecurity in northern Michigan.”
Kapnick said Batali is not currently working with a PR person and that they will somehow be “limiting the amount of people who can sign up” for the virtual events, which will cost $50 each.
She and Batali worked together years ago on a General Mills project.
“That’s how we know each other. I reached out to him about doing some casual ‘happy hour’ type of virtual events,” she said in an email.
A source told The Post that Batali’s former partner Bastianich will not be involved in the new endeavor.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based private chef Luigi Fineo, who was slated to host an event with Batali just days before misconduct allegations broke, told The Post he was excited for the fallen chef’s comeback
“What he did wasn’t right, no doubt,” Fineo said. But, “he’s a dinosaur in this industry. He’s a heavyweight.”