VIDEO: Popular Bay Area chef accused of sexually harassing 17 women

Ali Reid -  

OAKLAND (KRON) -- A popular Bay Area chef is accused of sexually harassing more than a dozen women, and on Thursday night, that chef stepped away from day-to-day operations at his businesses.

Charlie Hallowell owns three restaurants in Oakland--Pizzaiolo, Boot and Shoe Service, and Penrose.

Now, one of his former employees is speaking out.

It's been eight years since Celeste Cooper quit working with Charlie Hallowell but says she's still scarred by memories of the well-known chef.

Asked if she was surprised to hear of the accusations, she tells KRON4 absolutely not.

As a matter of fact, she believes there are even more victims out there.

As of Thursday night, KRON4 is told there are 17 women accusing Hallowell of unwanted advances.

Cooper tells KRON4 the restaurateur made comments about how hot of a mother she was.

At that time, she had a daughter and was pregnant with her second child.

There are even more accusations that are too offensive to repeat.

These complaints come from former employees that worked at each of the three eating establishments.

Cooper tells KRON4 she's seen many respectable employees quit because of sexual harassment.

"One of the things that was said often in my presence...[by Charlie] was, 'I wanna be surrounded by beauty. If it's not beautiful, I don't wanna look at it,'" Cooper said. "And then you look at his restaurant, and you look at the people that work at his restaurants, and it's all beautiful people. Beautiful women. Beautiful, strong, powerful women. And every single one of them that I worked with that was at Pizzaiolo at the time, and that have worked with him ever since, they all left."

KRON4 reached out directly to Hallowell for comment in addition to the restaurant group.

KRON4 has not heard back.


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