Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain says he feels like he failed women because none of his close female friends confided in him about widespread sexual harassment issues – until now.
In the wake of the sexual assault allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, The Parts Unknown star has railed against the “meathead” culture in the restaurant industry.
Now, in a new interview, Bourdain says he’s troubled by the fact that he’s hearing stories of widespread sexual harassment from women he is close to – who didn’t feel comfortable sharing those issues in the past.
Speaking to Slate he said: “Why was I not the sort of person, or why was I not seen as the sort of person, that these women could feel comfortable confiding in? I see this as a personal failing.”
It highlights a lesser-examined aspect of the Weinstein revelations: a culture in which women felt afraid or unable to share their experiences of sexual harassment – even with their closest friends and colleagues.
He said he was examining himself to discover the reasons why he was not seen as a natural ally to women.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of really bad sh**, 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? So I started looking at that.”
He said part of the problem stems from being wrongly pigeonholed as “macho” chef – something he says couldn’t be further from the truth.
Referring to the release of his book Kitchen Confidential in 2000, he said: “There I was in the leather jacket and the cigarette and I also happily played that role or went along with it. Sh** was good.
“People said a lot of silly things about me. People actually used the word macho around me. And this was such a mortifying accusation that I didn’t even understand it.”
Bourdain’s girlfriend, actress and director Asia Argento, recently accused Weinstein of rape.
Afterwards, Bourdain wrote on social media: “I am proud and honoured to know you. You just did the hardest thing in the world.”
This week US celebrity chef John Besh quit his post as chief executive of the Besh Restaurant Group after more than 20 women said they had been sexually harassed while working either at head office or at one of his restaurants.