Chef-partner Chris Painter of Fishtown hotspot Wm. Mulherin’s Sons has been suspended following sexual harassment allegations from multiple former employees, Philadelphia magazine reported on Thursday. According to the magazine, owners Randall Cook and David Grasso suspended Painter after Philly Mag told them about the allegations. GM Michael Jreidini and two other restaurant staffers were also suspended.
Marqessa Gesualdi, a former pastry chef at the restaurant, told the magazine, “When you walked into that kitchen, it was like walking into the 1950s. It was like walking into an episode of Mad Men — the way that they view women, talk about women, treat women. … Everybody thinks [Chris Painter] is so great, but nobody knows what it’s like to work for him.”
Philly Mag also learned that Painter had been only working weekends at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons since the summer, after an incident led Cook and Grasso to decide that the chef could not be there at the same time as one of the employees. In a statement to Philly Mag, Cook and Grasso said they “immediately investigated the incident, met with those involved and took steps to protect the individuals affected and to prevent future issues of this sort.”
In response to the additional allegations now coming to light, Cook and Grasso said in the statement, “We have suspended all individuals accused of wrongdoing and have engaged an outside expert to conduct a broader and more thorough investigation.”
Painter, whose résumé includes the French Laundry, made a name for himself in Philly at Stephen Starr’s restaurants. He starting working with Starr in 1999 and in 2011 he and Starr opened Italian restaurant Il Pittore at 20th and Sansom. The restaurant closed in early 2016. Painter opened Wm. Mulherin’s Sons (1355 N. Front Street) with Cook and Grasso shortly after.