John Besh, a James Beard award winner and celebrity chef based in New Orleans, has stepped down from his own restaurant group after allegations of sexual misconduct against him and his company were brought to light in an eight-month investigation by Nola.com - The Times Picayune.
Company executive Shannon White announced Monday that Besh decided to step down from “all aspects of operations and focus on this family” in a letter obtained by The Advocate and Nola.com.
Brett Anderson, food critic and writer for Nola.com, spoke with 25 current and former Besh Group employees who said they were sexually assaulted while working for Besh Restaurant Group or at one of its restaurants.
Two separate complaints alleging sexual discrimination have been filed with federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since December, Anderson reported.
Harrah’s Casino New Orleans announced it was severing ties with Besh on Sunday after the allegations were made public. Besh opened Besh Steak inside the casino in 2003.
Besh Restaurant Group operates some of the most popular restaurants and nosh spots in New Orleans, including August, Domenica, Johnny Sanchez New Orleans and Shaya.
Best has ties to South Mississippi. He grew up in Slidell and graduated high school from St. Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis.