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Chef Mario Batali -- Accused of Playing Hide the Tip

8/17/2010 6:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Celebrity super chef Mario Batali is the target of a new, meaty lawsuit -- in which former employees from one of his Los Angeles restaurants claim the "Iron Chef" screwed them out of serious tip money.

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According to a lawsuit filed today in L.A. County Superior Court, a former bartender and a former server at Mario's famous Pizzeria Mozza restaurant claim Batali and his business partner ran a tip-stealing scheme.

So how did the scheme work? According to the ex-employees, Batali and his partner created something called a "Wine Program" -- into which they funneled a certain percentage of tips that were paid by credit card ... and kept it for themselves.

The employees claim the practice was also going down at Batali's higher-end restaurant next door, Osteria Mozza.  The employees go on to claim that they weren't provided with adequate breaks and that they weren't paid promptly upon being let go. They're looking for unspecified damages ... which means, 'a lot.'

If you think you've heard this story before -- it's because Batali was just hit with a lawsuit on the other coast for allegedly running a similar scheme at his famous NY eatery, Babbo.

A rep for Batali had no comment.

79 COMMENTS

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1.

TrixLaRue    

The restaurant industry is shady even with all the spiffy celebrity chefs. The way tips are handled create creative ways for bosses to rip off their employees. It happens all the time all over the country at all types of establishments.

1467 days ago
2.

GV    

The New York restaurant is Babbo, not Boba. Harvey, you are in NYC, you should know better!

1467 days ago
3.

Sickmund Fruendberg    

He should think about looking into "salads"

1467 days ago
4.

justsaying    

It's true: The love of money is the root of all evil.

1467 days ago
5.

Suckologist    

Hey People...when you dine out leave your tip in cash and pay for the bill with credit card. Your server will appreciate it.

1467 days ago
6.

Mark    

Isn't that fat bastard from Austin Powers? Either way, this guy is a fat bastard.

1467 days ago
7.

In L.A.    

I agree - Batali is a s***bag that looks like a Fat Pink Pig!!

1467 days ago
8.

Klipper    

Look at that big fat disgusting pig. Ugh. So gross. He's a heart attack waiting to happen. I'd vomit if I had to look at this tub of lard cooking my meal. Can you imagine all the fat juice he sweats out all over your food.

1467 days ago
9.

max    

He is actually a great chef Klipper, but unfortunatley people do dumb sh*t like this.

1467 days ago
10.

abby    

WOW . . . I hope it's not true. I always liked Mario. This kind of destroys my respect for him.

1467 days ago
11.

just me    

what a cheap s.o.b. i hope he goes broke and the food network takes notice, maybe boycot that chanell till he's off the air.I mean 5 10 15 employees could be wrong but not 3 restaurants of people.

1467 days ago
12.

VICHAI    

weeeeeeeeeeee. got caught red handed
i am totaly agree paid back to all the employees + interest+compensation to all the employees he has fired.
good and justice has been serve.

1467 days ago
13.

Larry    

"Tip Sharing" is illegal in California. Period. But sleazeball restaurant owners unwilling to pay their managers fair and decent wages still resort to fleecing servers & bartenders to make up the difference. If you work in any restaurant in CA that does this BS, call the state labor board and complain. Back in my restaurant days, I did it and got about $7,000 as settlement. The owners had done it for years, and today they don't like me....

1467 days ago
14.

Stoney    

Mario, if you read these things, you really have to lose some weight. Or you're gonna die. It's that simple. You look like a balloon that's blown up until it's ready to burst.
If you're stealing tips you ought to hang your head. You have more money than you can spend in this lifetime and more luck too. There are hundreds of chefs who don't get the exposure you do and they're just as good or better. Shame on you.

1467 days ago
15.

Areader    

Here's hoping the negative press hits him right in his big fat wallet!

1467 days ago
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