The Complicated Way Rachael Ray Feels About The Me Too Movement

In the "Opinions That Haven't Aged Well" department, there are some cringeworthy doozies. One of them is Rachael Ray's take on Mario Batali, as reported by Grub Street, after the now-disgraced chef made a remark comparing bankers to Hitler and Stalin: "I don't think anyone is going to seriously stop eating Mario's food as long as Mario is still cooking it and serving it," Ray told the magazine. "His food is made with love." And while Batali may have weathered the backlash from his culturally tone-deaf comparison, there was one storm that proved to have the power to take him down completely: the Me Too movement.

As The Guardian reported, the chef and his company must pay out over half-a-million dollars to resolve a four-year investigation into sexual harassment allegations at three of Batali's restaurants. This decision comes on the heels of the many other allegations against the celebrity chef that resulted in his leaving his own show, "The Chew," in 2017, and a charge of indecent assault and battery levied against him in 2019. And, while Ray was prepared to give her former boss and mentor the benefit of the doubt when he casually referenced the Holocaust while discussing the way modern bankers conduct their business, she isn't so quick to absolve the chef of his Me Too history. "I don't have that firsthand knowledge," Ray told NPR in 2019 of Batali's allegations. Which isn't exactly a statement of loyalty, but it's not quite an indictment, either.

Hesitant to levy an accusation, Rachael Ray keeps the focus on food

When NPR asked Rachael Ray about her decision not to come out clearly and unequivocally against Mario Batali, she laments how unfair criticism can be and carefully talks about the chef's family instead and the "trauma" inflicted upon an entire group when allegations of sexual misconduct are levied against someone. But when pushed, Ray relents: "Unless it's a professional setting that I have a percentage of or firsthand knowledge of, it is not my place to tell other people how to run their businesses or their lives. It just isn't."

At the end of the day, Ray explains, she believes that she herself has "always been treated extremely fairly at work." And while she does her best to support women in all male-dominated industries, she told NPR she understands the Me Too movement coming for the restaurant business, as both men and women "speak inappropriately in kitchens." Not exactly the powerful indictment one might hope for from a well-known personality in the food industry (which, as Food & Wine reports, has a serious systemic problem with sexual harassment), but perhaps what you might expect from a chef who has built a career on likeability. One has to assume that the book Ray was promoting at NPR, "Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals From a Sweet and Savory Life," a part-memoir, part-cookbook, probably has more aggressive opinions about spaghetti than it does about Me Too.