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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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46.

ckremer    

what a dush bag, i bet his are real proud of him, NOT

1444 days ago
47.

scott    

celebrity whatever! fat ass punk

1444 days ago
48.

alyx    

That is very sad and will be sure to never eat at any of his restaurants. However, the idea of leaving cash tips is a good one. His food is not of my palate so have no worries. A good server is hard to find so look for another job unless he pays much more up front.

1444 days ago
49.

Kim    

Every time I see this person, I cannot believe how fat he is. I would never eat food from his restaurant for fear of walking away from the table 10 pounds heavier. No thanks.

1444 days ago
50.

lisa c    

and we expected what from this Elitist ???

1444 days ago
51.

Motoman    

I live in Lake Ariel, P.A`and I am a cook at the Ledgedale BBQ Pit where it is a standard practice for the owners to take 50 percent of the waiting staff tips out of the jars at the end of the night, for theirselves.....is that right? Nooo it is not, but who is to complain... its all under the table...even if the people doing the work say anything they will loce their jobs........................

1444 days ago
52.

Palm Beach, FL    

Iron Mountain SUCKS!!!!!

1444 days ago
53.

Matt     

i've been to esca in mid town manhattan. this is all too common at places that have a lot of business. and those orange crocs have to go.

1444 days ago
54.

TJ    

so lame. from now on, i'll tip in cash.

1444 days ago
55.

cari    

it takes alotta meatballza to filla that fache brute.

his momma anda poppa must be a so proud.

1444 days ago
56.

TheMachine1    

@Squeaky_shoes

If many people are greedy and filing lawsuits just to get money they did not legitimately earn it stands to reason that there are also a lot of greedy people screwing people over without using the courts.

1444 days ago
57.

Olivia    

Well, what do you expect? You set yourself up on television, then you are fair game. Come on, anyone who is on our REALITY TV sets themselves up. So you inevitabily set yourself up. Give me a break! Who really cares?

1444 days ago
58.

John Adams    

Does this guy look like Larry Flynt?

1444 days ago
59.

tinamarie    

i hate this guy so much ~ yah, food network should can his fat ugly gross greazzy greedy ass. he's just such a conceited fat ass little stealing f***!

1444 days ago
60.

Stupid People Hater    

Hmm, I used to like watching him on TV. If this is true I no longer care to see his face again.

1444 days ago
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