Iron Chef accused of sexual harassment

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In a report that comes after an extensive nine-month investigation, NOLA.com/The Times Picayune details allegations of 25 different women against the celebrity chef and other higher-ups at The Besh Restaurant Group, including nine willing to be named.

In a letter obtained by the New Orleans Advocate, Besh announced today that he will sever all ties with the company he founded, which oversees 14 restaurants and 1,200 employees. A spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the letter, but did not comment on whether Besh will retain his ownership stake or if there will be a name change.

As the headlines spread about sexual harassment allegations in the Besh Restaurant Group, the Besh name swiftly came down from one of its restaurants. One woman says she was pressured into a "months-long" sexual relationship with Besh himself, and that when she tried to stop it, others retaliated.

Two separate complaints alleging sexual discrimination have been filed with federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since December, Anderson reported.

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The Besh Group, which was established in 2005, has never had a professional human resources department to process employee complaints.

In a statement, Besh, a 49-year-old married dad, acknowledges a "consensual relationship" with a team member.

According to the announcement, those efforts include "engaging an expert to independently investigate whether any unreported claims exist" and the establishment of "a new employee assistance program" that will "offer an array of services, including counseling". Stay with WDSU.com for updates. "Since then I have been seeking to rebuild my marriage and come to terms with my reckless actions given the profound love I have for my wife, my boys and my Catholic faith".

Raymond Landry, Besh Restaurant Group's general counsel, addressed the issue in a statement to The Times-Picayune: "We have learned recently that a number of women in our company feel that we have not had a clear mechanism in place to allow them to voice concerns about receiving the respect they deserve on the job". Besh opened Besh Steak inside the casino in 2003. This is not the way the head of a company like ours should have acted, let alone a husband and father. He won the James Beard award for Best Chef of the Southeast in 2006, and his flagship restaurant, August, has been a nominee for several James Beard awards.

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