Chef Compares Support For Restaurateur Accused Of Misconduct To Hurricane Relief

Famed chef Gabrielle Hamilton says she’ll become chef and co-owner of the Spotted Pig in New York alongside restaurateur Ken Friedman, who has been accused of sexual harassment by women who worked at his restaurants.

Hamilton, currently chef and owner of the nearly two-decade-old Prune restaurant in Manhattan, talked to The New York Times Wednesday about her plans with Friedman.

“We don’t have a deal, but we’re going to make one,” said Hamilton, who added that she would be joining Friedman alongside her wife, chef Ashley Merriman. “We’re going to be chef-owners. We’re going to run the Pig.”


Daniel Zuchnik via Getty Images

Plans for the new partnership come six months after a Times report revealed a culture of sexual misconduct at Friedman’s restaurants. He reportedly made unwanted sexual advances, publicly groped employees, and facilitated celebrity chef Mario Batali’s sexually aggressive behavior. 

Chef April Bloomfield, a former Spotted Pig co-owner who said last week she was cutting ties with Friedman, also allegedly ignored employees’ complaints, according to the Times. Bloomfield denied the claims.

Bloomfield’s departure presumably leaves an opening for Hamilton, who told the Times she and her wife taking on “a man-made disaster.”

Hamilton made the bizarre comparison of her plans for Spotted Pig to what chef José Andrés did last year in Hurricane Maria relief efforts for Puerto Rico.

“Everyone gets so excited when José Andrés goes into these natural disasters and helps people,” she told the paper. “They ought to be happy that these two women are going into a man-made disaster to help make things right.”

Hamilton noted that the Spotted Pig and its nearly 100 employees “needed help in the wake of the accusations against Mr. Friedman.”

Many on social media took issue with Hamilton’s plans and her reference to Andrés:

A former Spotted Pig server, Natalie Saibel, who was among those telling stories about Friedman in the Times expose, said she was stunned that Hamilton would join Friedman.

“It’s shocking and unfathomable why as a female chef, as a queer woman, Gabrielle would align herself with a sexual harasser and help bail this man out,” Saibel told the Times. 

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