Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has begun speaking out against sexual assault and a “meathead culture” in the restaurant world that he concedes he may have tacitly endorsed. In an interview with Slate, Bourdain said that watching his girlfriend, actress and director Asia Argento, be run out of Italy by a vengeful press in retaliation for speaking out about her alleged rape at the hands of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, had proven to be a brutal wake up call.
“I’ve been seeing up close … the difficulty of speaking out about these things, and the kind of vilification and humiliation and risk and pain and terror that come with speaking out about this kind of thing,” Bourdain said. “That certainly brought it home in a personal way that, to my discredit, it might not have before.”
“You understand why people don’t report these things,” he added. “When you see what even now, today, what people say … when women find the strength to be honest.”
Bourdain said that hearing that more than two dozen women have alleged sexual harassment while working for celebrity chef John Besh had made him further reflect on his own “macho” persona, and whether it had discouraged women in the restaurant business from reaching out to him for help.
“I see this as a personal failing,” Bourdain conceded. “I’ve been hearing a lot of really bad shit, frankly, and in many cases it’s like, wow, I’ve known some of these women and I’ve known women who’ve had stories like this for years and they’ve said nothing to me. What is wrong with me? What have I, how have I presented myself in such a way as to not give confidence, or why was I not the sort of person people would see as a natural ally here?”
In the interview, Bourdain described how long years spent in an “abusive … male-dominated and cruel beyond imagining” system of chef training had impacted his view of how to treat employees in the kitchen, and shared his thoughts on what it would take to change the restaurant culture.
Read the full interview at Slate.