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Top Chef Star Mike Isabella Accused of Sexual Harassment
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Photo courtesy of The Business Journals.

Summary: A Top Chef contestant has been accused of sexually harassing a former employee. 

A woman sued her former celebrity chef boss of sexual harassment, and she is seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in Superior Court in the District of Columbia.


According to PBS, Chloe Caras is suing Mike Isabella, a chef who competed on “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All-Stars.” She worked as the director of operations for the Isabella Eatery in Virginia, and she was fired in 2017.

Caras said that during her three years at Isabella’s company, she was subjected to unwanted touching, sexual advances, demeaning comments from Isabella, and more.

“On multiple occasions, Mr. Isabella sexually propositioned Ms. Caras and subjected her to degrading acts, including pulling her hair while standing behind her in a clear pantomime of having penetrative sex from the rear,” the lawsuit stated.

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Isabella owns a multi-million dollar culinary empire, and he owns about a dozen restaurants in the Washington DC area. At the time of her employment, Caras was the highest-ranking woman in Isabella’s company, Mike Isabella Concepts.

Caras said in her lawsuit that she received sexist insults and texts that called her names like “whore” and “dumb bitch.” She said that false rumors spread at work about her sexual history and that she was subject to non-consensual touching and gross gestures and remarks.

Caras stated that the Top Chef created a “hostile work environment” and that he clearly had a “contempt for women.”

In her lawsuit, Caras said that on December 5, 2017, Isabella told another chef that he should have sex with Caras. She said that upon hearing that, she stormed away in one of his restaurants, and Isabella chased her down, screamed at her, and then fired her before she reached the door.

Isabella has denied Caras’ allegations to the Washington Post, who broke the story.

“Simply put, the allegations of an unwelcoming or hostile work atmosphere are false,” the statement said.

Isabella is being represented by Bascietto & Bregman, a law firm based in Maryland.

Caras is represented by Debra Katz, who told the Associated Press that Caras has also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“Women generally do not make it into the higher management ranks of Mr. Isabella’s establishments,” Caras said.

The Washington Post spoke with two employees who corroborated Caras’s firing story and another former employee who called the atmosphere of Isabella’s restaurants a “frat house.” She said that the word “whore” was frequently thrown around in the kitchen, and she “hated” working for the chef, who has significant influence in the area.

What do you think of Mike Isabella? Let us know in the comments below.


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