John Besh
John Besh stepped down from his company Monday amid sexual harassment allegations. Instagram

John Besh, celebrity chef and co-owner of Besh Restaurant Group, stepped down from his namesake company Monday following accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment. A Times-Picayune investigation published Saturday revealed 25 current and former employees at Besh Group said they had been sexually harassed while working at the company.

The woman who came forward in the report said Besh fostered a culture of sexual harassment, according to the Times-Picayune investigation. Besh, a celebrity chef from Louisiana, was himself accused of having a “long-term unwelcome sexual relationship” with an employee at the company. He claimed the relationship was consensual.

Besh Restaurant Group employs some 1,200 people in New Orleans, where it operates 11 restaurants, a bar and an event space. The chef himself has been awarded numerous accolades, including the 2006 James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast and the 2009 Food Arts’ Silver Spoon Award. Besh has authored four cookbooks and opened 12 restaurants.

The restaurant executive has been married to his wife, Jenifer Besh, since 1991. The pair has four sons together who often feature alongside his wife on his public Instagram account.

“Bless you my beautiful angel,” he wrote alongside a photo of his wife in September. “May you have a #happybirthday #iloveyou and so I’m thankful for all the selfless #love you’ve shared with us all!”

Besh decided to step down from “all aspects of operations” at Besh Restaurant Group Monday in order to “focus on his family,” according to a letter sent by company executive Shannon White and obtained by the New Orleans Advocate. The company also hired a third-party organization to independently investigate the situation, but Besh was set to keep his ownership stake in the company and the organization would retain his name.

Harrah’s casino in New Orleans, home to the restaurant Besh Steak, also said Sunday it was cutting ties with the chef and restaurateur.

“I have been seeking to rebuild my marriage and come to terms with my reckless actions,” Besh said in a statement, according to the Times-Picayune. “I also regret any harm this may have caused to my second family at the restaurant group, and sincerely apologize to anyone past and present who has worked for me and found my behavior as unacceptable as I do.”