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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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16.

bec    

I've always liked this guys cooking style. If this is true he should be hung by his balls.

1498 days ago
17.

Throwback kid    

Wow, look at that triple chin! Go on a diet big red Fatboy!

1498 days ago
18.

mark    

I have actually spent time with this fat ass socially. Not only does he look like a pig, he acts like one too. Sweaty, gross, and just all around disgusting. There is no doubt in my mind that he is guilty of the accusations made by these employees.

1498 days ago
19.

christine    

Fat $%#$%#% I totally belive this. I hate him.

1498 days ago
20.

Tony    

It's really weird to hear this story b/c Mario is hardly ever at Mozza LA. It's like he's only in name only. Nancy Silverton is everything behind Mozza and Osteria, she works very hard to keep the place up and the food excellent. Perhaps it was other employees skimming the money? That happens a lot in the restaurant business.

1498 days ago
21.

andy    

nic

1498 days ago
22.

Boston Chris    

This fat maggot has been ripping off customers for years. I have been to 7 of his places and at each one his staff was trained to UPSELL. "I really think the truffle pasta would compliment your salad" ($100 truffle pasta)...or......."actually, for a few more dollars you could get a prosecco that actually tastes a lot better"........I will never go to his places again as the staff is rude and they look at you like a country boy...."guanciale is cured pork jowl"....no *#$% you dopey wannabe actor.

Batali is a first class whore who diluted his brand years and years ago.....I could go on but you get the point.

1498 days ago
23.

bring back recent posts    

Mario...dude...u need to eat salads and cut back on ur booze..ur a heart attack waitin to happen

1498 days ago
24.

blah    

Get in my Belly!

1498 days ago
25.

vangold    

Never trust a grown man wearing shorts and orange cloggs.

1498 days ago
26.

Tara    

way to go fatman

1498 days ago
27.

Superman    

He looks like a glutton.

1498 days ago
28.

Ben Gleck    

He'll blame the accountant. The accountant will blame the computer software. No jail time. No restitution. Another white collar crime brought to justice.

1498 days ago
29.

Sarah    

It's the restaurant industry! No one gets adequate breaks, and its common practice in NY for servers to tip out to busses, and hostesses. If you can't deal with tipping out to people who make your job easier then you don't deserve to be a server. Not sure about this "Wine Program", though. That seems iffy.

1498 days ago
30.

Lauren    

IF this in fact true, it is dispicable. Tip sharing is the way an owner of a business gets away without paying all of his employees a fair wage. I can understand a reduced wage for the actual waitstaff because of tips, but waitpersons should be albe to keep ALL OF THEIR TIPS. ALL. Pay your freaking chefs and hostesses a proper wage (not to mention the management)and you owners won't have to STEAL the tips of your servers to cover you business expenses. Total bullsheet.

1498 days ago
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