Mario Batali said to be ‘actively exploring’ ideas for next venture

Mario Batali has remained largely absent from the public eye since December, after stating that he would be stepping away “from the day-to-day operations” of his restaurant group amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

As early as February, however, the celebrity chef is said to have been “actively exploring” ideas to resurrect his image and career, according to a recent report in The New York Times.

Batali, who was accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by several former employees and colleagues within the restaurant industry, has reportedly been seeking counsel on a possible comeback, reaching out to friends for advice in a series of meetings.

His options, according to the Times, are not necessarily confined to becoming a foodie personality once again, or continuing on as a restaurateur. In fact, he’s currently in the process of divesting from his former restaurant group, the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, in a “complex,” albeit amicable, buyout.

“The process of his divestiture is going really well considering how complex it is,” Joe Bastianich, Batali’s former business partner, told the Times. “The real point of beginning will be when he departs from the company. That’s ground zero.”

Batali’s business partner, Joe Bastianich, is currently working with Batali to arrange a buyout of their restaurant group.  (YouTube)

Batali, 57, declined to discuss his next move with the Times, but the report suggests that he may seek to start an entirely new female-led company with Federica Marchionni, the former president of Dolce & Gabbana. On the other hand, he might instead focus his efforts on starting a program to help displaced Rwandans re-acclimate to their home country, the report says.

Friends and advisors of Batali’s, including former Bon Appetit and Times editor Christine Muhlke and former NYC mayoral candidate Christine C. Quinn, have reportedly urged him to hand over control of his next venture to up-and-comers who will lead the business away from scandal.

Muhlke even told the Times that chefs in Batali’s position should “leave the field” entirely and let consultants “do the work needed to build something better.”

“My advice to these chefs and restaurateurs is that this is not a scandal, this is a paradigm shift,” she said. “The old ‘wait it out and return appearing humbled’ prescription no longer applies.”

Celebrity chef Mario Batali steps away from his restaurant empire and has been removed from co-hosting duties on ABC's "The Chew" following sexual misconduct allegations by four women.

Batali himself announced he would be stepping away from the “day-to-day operations” of his entire restaurant group in early December, following a report in Eater detailing multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Additional accusations of inappropriate behavior surfaced in the following weeks, including accounts from a former Del Posto hostess who said Batali touched her breasts, and that of a former manager at celebrity hot-spot The Spotted Pig who claimed to have seen Batali grope and kiss a woman who appeared unconscious.

Amid the accusations, ABC relieved Batali of his co-hosting duties on ABC’s “The Chew,” and a revival of his “Molto Mario” series on the Food Network was canceled.

McDonald’s patron barricades himself in bathroom, rips urinal off wall during police standoff

A man was taken into police custody at a McDonald’s near Atlanta, Ga. after barricading himself in the bathroom Tuesday.

Derrick Hall, 36, caused a standoff with police and a SWAT team at a Gwinnett County location of the fast-food chain, after employees reported he had a knife and was possibly doing drugs, according to Fox 5.

Officers tried to get Hall to surrender peacefully but were unsuccessful. He began threatening the authorities and trashing the bathroom, pulling a urinal off the wall and breaking a water pipe. Hall is also accused of swinging his knife at the police.

Authorities took out warrants for Hall on terrorist threats and criminal trespass, and the SWAT team had to deploy gas inside the restaurant to remove him. After being evaluated at the hospital, he was taken to the local jail, Fox 5 reported. No one was injured during the standoff.

This is the second time an incident has occurred at a McDonald’s in the Atlanta area in the last week. A DeKalb County McDonald’s was forced to close after someone tossed a smoke grenade through the drive-thru window Monday night. After paying for their food, the suspect threw the device into the restaurant and drove off.

Woman’s $400G lawsuit claims ‘cover-up’ of mouse guts allegedly found in soup

An Oregon woman filed a lawsuit Monday, claiming she found mouse guts in a carton of Pacific Foods soup.

An Oregon woman sued a food company this week, claiming it swept aside her complaints of allegedly finding what appeared to be mouse remains in a carton of soup.

Maesel Dorn, 72, claims in the $400,000 lawsuit filed against Pacific Foods that she fell violently ill after eating the company’s organic roasted red pepper tomato soup, which she purchased in January.

Dorn told the Oregonian she became so sick after eating the soup that she hallucinated. She claimed to have never been that sick before in her life.

She says she regained her appetite a couple of days later and tried the soup again, the court documents said. She claims she then poured herself a cup, and what appeared to be rodent intestines and other rodent parts fell out of the carton.

“I was just shocked more than anything,” Dorn told the paper. “I kept looking at it, and I couldn’t believe it. … And then, it was just so sickening. I haven’t been able to eat any soup since then.”

The suit claims Dorn made several calls to Pacific Foods, and an employee told her to bring the carton and mouse parts to the store where she purchased it and someone would pick it up for testing.

Dorn, a retired registered nurse, said she repeatedly called the company to check on the results, but was told they weren’t in yet.

“(I)t was just so sickening. I haven’t been able to eat any soup since then.”

– Maesel Dorn, plaintiff in lawsuit against Pacific Foods

According to the suit, Pacific Foods told Dorn on March 29 — more than two months after the discovery — that it had never received the soup container. Dorn told the Oregonian that an employee with the company claimed the carton was never brought to the store, “so we didn’t have anything to test. Sorry, case closed.”

Dorn then sued the company, accusing it of negligence and of attempting to “cover up” what she found.

A Pacific Foods spokesman told Fox12 Oregon that it doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but takes all customer complaints seriously.

“We can say that our utmost priority is ensuring the safety and integrity of our products,” he said.

Mom claims McDonald’s ‘victimized’ her with bathroom breastfeeding ban

A new mom was left in tears after she was banned from breastfeeding her baby in McDonald’s — and told to take the tot into a public toilet.

Christine Wilson, 22, had gone into the fast-food restaurant in order to discreetly feed her 7-month-old son Brooklyn when he started to cry. But she was ordered out by a staff member, who told her the only place she could breastfeed was in the shopping center’s public bathrooms.

Christine has blasted staff and says she felt “victimized” by the incident which happened in the West Orchards Shopping Centre in Coventry, England on March 29

“I feel scared to go out on my own with little Brooklyn now — I’m a young mom and feel very vulnerable whenever I have to breastfeed in public,” said the young woman from Canley, Coventry.

swns

“Over the last few months, I’ve had really problems feeding in public. I’ve had all sorts of comments from passersby. It really affects your confidence.”  (SWNS)

“Over the last few months, I’ve had really problems feeding in public. I’ve had all sorts of comments from passersby, telling me to cover up, calling me vile and saying I’m a bad mum. It really affects your confidence, especially when it’s your first child.”

“I was doing some shopping on the day in question, and wanted to go and have a bite to eat in McDonald’s. As soon as I walked in, Brooklyn started crying his eyes out, he was desperate to be fed. I went up to a member of staff and asked where I could go to feed him. I was told the only place that I could go was the shopping center toilets — it was horrific.

“Who in their right mind is going to feed their young child on the toilet? It’s so unsanitary. I went to the fifth floor to speak to management, and explained my situation to them. Again, the response was that I had to go to the toilets and be discreet about it.

“I asked him how he would feel about eating food whilst sitting on the toilets, and he said that would be disgusting – even though that’s effectively what he was telling my son to do. As I left the office, there was a woman on reception who was looking right at me, and started laughing. The whole experience left me feeling incredibly embarrassed and victimized.

“In the end, I had to feed him on a spare table by the escalators, which was utterly humiliating. My confidence had been shattered in the first place, but to have to sit there as people went up and down, staring at me, was horrific. I came home in a flood of tears, and had to finish feeding Brooklyn back at home.

“I’ve not been back to the shopping center since, and I can’t see why I would do. I take Brooklyn everywhere with me, so if there’s nowhere to feed him then it’s just going to make life a nightmare. I find it baffling, because recently the shopping center has been renovated.”

“It’s 2018, so the fact that they haven’t thought of installing a discreet breastfeeding area is baffling.”

A spokesperson for McDonald’s said: “As a family restaurant we aim to create an atmosphere in which anyone breastfeeding feels comfortable, and customers are welcome to breastfeed in our dining areas.

“If someone wants a more private area then we suggest that they speak to our team who will see what they can do to help.”

A spokesman for West Orchards said: “The lady managed to speak to the Duty Manager on the day who logged her complaint and explained the situation. West Orchards indeed has a breastfeeding area, which is completely private and available to customers in the location of the ladies toilets on level 2. As a center, we welcome breastfeeding mums and have absolutely no issues with those who choose to breastfeed outside the dedicated area.

“The center offers a number of locations where a new mum can sit down and breastfeed her child. However, the seating in Canteen belongs to each individual operator who has their own policies so it’s always best to check in advance.”

Hotel lifts lifetime ban for man who destroyed room with pepperoni, flock of seagulls

A man's suitcase full of pepperoni led to a hotel room full of seagulls and a lifetime ban he finally got the hotel to revoke.

A posh hotel in British Columbia, Canada, has lifted a 17-year ban against a customer who inadvertently caused extensive damage to the room he was staying in by leaving a suitcase full of pepperoni next to an open window.

In 2001, Nick Burchill was staying at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, B.C., on business. With him, Burchill brought a suitcase full of Brothers TNT Pepperoni – a specialty item from his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, he wrote in a Facebook post addressed to the hotel.

“I told my Navy buddies that I was coming out West and I was asked to bring ‘Brother’s Pepperoni’ from Halifax. It is a local delicacy. Because this was the Navy we were talking about, I brought enough for a ship. In a hurry, I had completely filled a suitcase with pepperoni for my friends,” he wrote in the post

When Burchill checked in to the hotel room, he realized it did not have a refrigerator. Burchill was concerned about the meat staying out, so he placed it next to an open window for the chilly air to keep the pepperoni cold.

Burchill then decided to leave his room and take a “4 or 5 hour” walk – and when he came back, he discovered a room full of seagulls.

“I didn’t have time to count, but there must have been 40 [seagulls] and they had been in my room, eating pepperoni for a long time,” he wrote.

Burchill told CBC the seagulls were “flying around, the curtains are falling down, the lamps are falling down.” Not to mention the seagull droppings, which Burchill said the “room was covered in,” as well as seagull “drool,” which the man claims happens when seagulls eat pepperoni.

“One was just bouncing around on the windowsill and I was kind of losing my temper at this point, so I took off one of my shoes and I threw it in the direction of the seagull, and both the seagull and the shoe went out the window.”

– Nick Burchill

Burchill managed to get most of the birds out of the room, but had to take more extreme measures for the last two.

“One was just bouncing around on the windowsill and I was kind of losing my temper at this point, so I took off one of my shoes and I threw it in the direction of the seagull, and both the seagull and the shoe went out the window,” he said.

For the last stubborn bird, Burchill said he had to wrap it in a hotel towel and throw it out the window. Burchill told CBC the bird was fine.

To make matters worse, when Burchill retrieved his shoe, he saw it had landed in mud. Since he had to meet a client that evening, he returned to his room to use the hairdryer to clean his shoe and shorted the power.

At that point, Burchill called down to the front desk to ask for some assistance.

“They sent this poor lady up and I still remember the look on her face when she opened the door,” he told CBC.

“She had her cleaning kit with her and it was quite clear that the kit that she had with her was not going to cover the damage and the mess that was in that room,” he added.

The hotel agreed to lift the ban after Nick Burchill reached out to apologize with a letter, and a pound of pepperoni.  (Fairmont Empress)

In the Facebook post Burchill said he apologized to the woman and then went to meet his client. When he came back the hotel had moved him to a smaller room.

“I thought that was the end of it all until I was told that my company had received a letter banning me from the Empress. A ban that I have respected for almost 18 years,” he writes.

However, 17 years later, Burchill wanted to reach out and apologize to the hotel over the damage he caused and ask the swanky hotel to “reconsider” his lifetime ban.

“I hope that you will see fit to either grant me a pardon, or consider my 18 year away from the empress as ‘time served’,” he wrote on Facebook.

Lucky for Burchill, who stopped by the hotel to deliver an apology and a pound of Brothers TNT Pepperoni as a peace offering, the hotel agreed to lift his ban.

“I’ve made friends with one of the managers there and he’s made it quite clear that I’m encouraged to stay with them,” Burchill explained to CBC. “They’ll be disappointed if I don’t.”

Woman finds spider in McDonald’s chicken sandwich

A McDonald’s customer was in for a not-so-tasty surprise when she bit into her McChicken Sandwich Monday afternoon.

Classical singer Ciara Harvie was eating at a McDonald’s in Edinburgh, Scotland, when she discovered a dead spider nestled between the shreds of lettuce in her sandwich

The 20-year-old said she took the food – and arachnid – to the register, where she was met by a manager who she claims refused to apologize, the Mirror reported. Instead, the manager gave her another chicken sandwich, which Harvie did not eat.

Harvie posted her creepy-crawly lunch on Facebook, where it has been shared 2,000 times.

“Went to McDonald’s at Fort Kinnaird today and found a dead spider in my burger,” she wrote on Facebook. “I took it back and didn’t even get an apology. I don’t think I’ll be going back anything soon.”

Ciara said on social media that she was angrier by the reaction of the chain’s employees than the spider.

“I didn’t realize it was a spider at first, I just thought it was a piece of brown lettuce or something. I looked closer and was shocked to see it was a dead spider. I understand that things like this happen, and probably not very often, but I think the way they handled it was the most disappointing thing.”

McDonald’s has since apologized to Ciara for the incident and offered her a free meal, which she has declined.

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s said in a statement to the Mirror:

“We are sorry to hear about this customer’s experience. Food quality and safety are of the utmost importance to us and we place great emphasis on quality control, following rigorous standards in order to avoid any imperfections. At the time, we apologized to the customer and provided her with a replacement McChicken Sandwich. We have since spoken again with the customer to apologize once more and offer another replacement meal, which was declined.”

Ikea test kitchen exploring bug burgers and algae buns

Ikea's test kitchen is trying out bug burgers and algae buns.

It may be a far cry from their iconic Swedish meatballs, but Ikea’s test kitchen is churning out burgers made with bugs, hydroponic salads, and herbaceous ice creams. Space10 Lab, Ikea’s Copenhagen-based test kitchen, truly believes that their sustainable and apparently “delicious” meal options could be the food of the future.

“At SPACE10, our research is rooted in an important principle. Dishes shouldn’t just be healthy or sustainable. They must be delicious, too. To change people’s minds about food, to inspire them to try new ingredients, we can’t just appeal to the intellect — we have to titillate their taste buds,” they wrote on their blog.

Space10 revealed five classic dishes that they reimagined using alternative ingredients like insects, algae and lab-grown meat. No, they won’t be on Ikea menus any time soon, but the test kitchen outlined these colorful and creative dishes for their blog so everyone can catch a glimpse at the potential future of food.

The dishes included: the “dogless hotdog” (dried and glazed baby carrots, beet and berry ketchup, mustard and turmeric cream, roasted onions, cucumber salad and an herb salad mix), the “bug burger” (made with patties containing beetroot, parsnip, potatoes, and mealworms), the “neatball” (two varieties of meatless meatballs, one made with mealworms and another with root vegetables), the “lokal salad” (salad made with hydroponic microgreens) and a microgreen ice cream in flavors like fennel, coriander, basil and mint

Ikea has become more food-focused lately. The home design chain has expanded its food division with new market items and even has plans for standalone eateries. Some menu items from their sustainable vegetarian menu have even had successful test runs in Sweden.

Texas Ranger kills, eats bull that injured his elbow: ‘It was good meat’

The Venezuela native got revenge on the bull that sent him to the hospital.

Revenge tasted sweet for Texas Rangers pitcher Martin Pérez, who killed and ate the bull that charged at him in December 2017, causing him to break his right elbow.

On March 18, after his spring training debut, the left-hander revealed to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he got justice on the animal who charged at him at his Venezuela ranch. While attempting to dodge the creature, he fell and fractured the radial head of his right elbow in an injury that required surgery, as Sports Illustrated reported.

In the wake of the freak incident, Pérez told the Star-Telegram that the animal was no longer a worry.

“I killed him and I ate him. It was good meat,” the 26-year-old said. “No more bull.”

A steady rise in poverty and hunger in Venezuela in recent years has brought on a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions.

According to the Texan outlet, while it was initially believed Perez would need an extra month to recuperate and prepare for the spring season, the Venezuela native announced that he had recovered in time for the first week, with an 80-pitch outing against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m good to go,” he said.

Talk about taking the bull by the horns, indeed.

Ina Garten weighs in on Julia Child, Jacques Pepin chicken debate

Celebrity chef Ina Garten declared on Food Network’s “Cook Like a Pro” that chicken does not need to be washed before roasting – siding with Pepin.

In 1999 Julia Child insisted to French chef Jacques Pepin in their PBS series “Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home” that chicken needed to be washed before it is roasted.

Pepin argued that it did not need to be cleaned because “the heat [of the oven] kills all the germs,” Food & Wine reported.

Now, nearly 20 years later, another esteemed chef is weighing in on the controversy.

Celebrity chef Ina Garten declared on Food Network’s “Cook Like a Pro” that chicken does not need to be washed before roasting – siding with Pepin.

“I know there’s this whole debate about whether you wash the chicken before you do this, or you don’t,” Garten explains while she prepares a roast chicken.

Raw chicken wings on wooden cutting board

Washing raw chicken before cooking is actually more harmful and can spread bacteria.  (iStock)

Scientifically speaking, Garten and Pepin are right. Washing raw chicken before cooking is actually more harmful and can spread bacteria.

According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) washing poultry can cause potential cross-contamination and lead to salmonella.

“The problem is that you can splash, which can cross-contaminate,” Argyris K. Magoulas, a USDA technical information specialist, told Today, noting the pathogens could land on foods that may not get cooked later or cling to surfaces where they can linger.

“Washing is not really removing the [food-borne pathogens]. You kill them when you cook them [at the proper temperature],” he added.

The proper temperature for chicken should be 165 degrees at the meat’s thickest part.

Though if not cleaning your food is too hard to do, Magoulas said soaking the chicken in water in the refrigerator no more than two hours before cooking is a safer “washing” method.

Beer lover sues Pabst Brewing Co., says he was ‘deceived’ by false advertising

Brendan Peacock, of Sacramento, says the Olympia Brewing Company (which is owned by Pabst) falsely implies that the water comes from a spring in Washington.

The Olympia Brewing Company frequently boasts about “the water” it uses to brew its namesake beer, but one man from Sacramento says their claim doesn’t hold any.

Brendan Peacock, 37, has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the Pabst Brewing Co. — which owns Olympia — over what he believes to be misleading advertising and false implications about the beer’s ingredients, the Sacramento Bee reports.

According to the lawsuit, Peacock says he purchased some Olympia beer in April 2017 after being “deceived” by the brand’s advertising, which suggests Olympia is brewed with water from a spring near Tumwater, Wash. He subsequently learned that the beer is, in fact, brewed with water derived from the city of Irwindale in California’s San Gabriel Valley.

“It is unclear where the water is actually from,” reads the lawsuit, per the Bee. The court documents also say the San Gabriel Valley’s water supply had “been contaminated by industrial solvents in the past,” a claim backed up by earlier EPA reports.

Olympia’s website, meanwhile, describes its product as containing a blend of “nature’s finest raw materials from the fields of the Great Northwest” as well as “pure mountain water and golden barley.” The site’s “History” section also boasts about Olympia founder Leopold F. Schmidt, whot “first discovered the artesian spring near Tumwater Falls,” and thought, “with this water, I believe I can brew better beer than ever.”

The Pabst Brewing Co. was not immediately available for comment.

This also isn’t the first time that Peacock, described in the lawsuit as “a beer, and craft beer, consumer,” has taken umbrage with a beer brand’s advertising.

In April 2017, he filed a lawsuit against the 21st Amendment brewery for suggesting its beer was made in San Francisco’s Bay Area, when some is actually brewed in Minnesota. That particular case is being settled, though details of the settlement were not immediately available, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Olympia Brewing was founded in 1896, but was acquired by the Pabst Brewing Company in 1982 for just under $70 million. Olympia’s operations were subsequently moved from Tumwater to Irwindale.