Anthony Cailan, a celebrated sommelier who worked at several Los Angeles restaurants including Bestia and Animal, is facing allegations of sexual assault and harassment by multiple former colleagues, according to a report.
The report, published Friday in the New York Times, details accusations by four women of late-night invitations to Cailan’s New York apartment and sexually aggressive behavior. They were made by a former wine bar manager in Los Angeles, a wine sales rep in New York City and two other women who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Cailan, who denies the allegations, could not be reached for comment.
“The truth is, these allegations against me are false,” Cailan wrote in an email to the New York Times. “I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name.”
Cailan, 29, whose most recent wine job in L.A. was running the wine program at the now-closed Hayden wine bar in Culver City, is currently working at the Usual restaurant in New York City with his brother Alvin Cailan, the chef behind Eggslut.
Anthony built a name for himself as a promising sommelier during stints at the Melrose Avenue wine store Domaine LA and at some of the best restaurants in the city.
“We have zero tolerance for any type of harassment at our restaurants,” Bestia chefs and co-owners Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis and partner and director of operations Leah Bunch said in a statement. “We are a family-run business and we work to create a culture that instills that sense of family with everyone on the team. If issues are not brought to our attention, we aren’t able to act on the situation.”
In 2013, Cailan worked at the Arts District restaurant for a little over a year as a food runner, waiter and wine steward.
Cailan also worked as a line cook at Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Fairfax restaurant Animal.
“While Anthony worked briefly at Animal, we do not condone this type of behavior and find it unacceptable,” Dotolo said in an email to The Times. “We’ve always believed in treating everyone fairly, equally and with the utmost respect and these actions have no place in the food and wine industry or in this world.”
Cailan, considered one of the up-and-coming stars of the wine world, was recently featured on the cover of Wine & Spirits magazine as one of the country’s best new somms. The recognition prompted the four women to come forward with the allegations.
The former wine bar manager, 22-year-old Raquel Makler, told the New York Times that Cailan was her mentor. She alleged that he invited her to his New York apartment to keep him company while he sobered up. While there, she said Cailan forcibly undressed her, touched and kissed her.
Sarah Fernandez, 29, also told the New York Times she got a late-night text from Cailan while she was working as a wine sales rep in June. She described him as sexually aggressive and said he put his hands on her thighs and tried to get into her underwear.
“He would not take no for an answer,” Fernandez said.
The claims against him are the latest in a growing number of sexual harassment allegations that have rocked the restaurant world and many other industries in recent years.
There have been multiple accusations against many prominent chefs and restaurateurs including chef Mario Batali, restaurateur Ken Friedman, chef John Besh and pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini.