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December 12, 2017

Hannaford pivots on 'Mario Batali Home Chef Challenge'

Courtesy / Mario Batali
Courtesy / Mario Batali
Mario Batali, celebrity chef of The Chew, a daytime talk show on ABC that celebrates and explores life through food, stepped away from his restaurant chain and cooking show Monday after acknowledging that sexual misconduct allegations "match up with ways" he's acted. That prompted Hannaford Supermarkets to modify a "home chef challenge" that was in the finalist round.

Hannaford Supermarkets announced today it has modified its "Home Chef Challenge with Mario Batali," following sexual misconduct allegations against the celebrity chef that surfaced Monday on the website Eater New York.

When the challenge was announced in September, a grand-prize winner was to have received an all-expenses paid trip for two to New York City to meet Batali on the set of ABC's "The Chew" and enjoy dinner at one of his restaurants. But Batali stepped away from his restaurant chain and cooking show "The Chew" on Monday, after acknowledging in a statement that "much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted."

"Rather than select a single winner of the Home Chef Challenge, Hannaford will provide all three finalists with grand prize awards," Eric Blom, Hannaford's external communications manager, told Mainebiz in a written statement. "Each individual will receive a trip for two to New York and comparable food experiences in the city. Hannaford congratulates each of the participants on their accomplishments."

Hannaford's competition had already proceeded through a narrowing of the regional semifinalists to three finalists, with the Portland finalist event taking place on Dec. 6.

The Portland regional winner was Leslie Fillnow of Camden, whose scheduled home dish was "Farfalle with Pesto and Scallops." The other regional events had been scheduled to be held in Burlington, Vt., and Albany, N.Y.

Batali's culinary enterprises include 26 restaurants, 11 cookbooks, numerous television shows and five Eataly marketplaces.

Maine Public reported that Batali will remain an owner at his restaurants, but said he would hand over day-to-day oversight of his businesses while he works to regain the trust of coworkers and associates.

ABC on Monday asked Batali to take leave from "The Chew" cooking program while it reviews the allegations.

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