In the weeks leading up to executive pasty chef Tariq Hanna’s surprising departure from Sucré, a renowned New Orleans bakery, several female employees complained to company officials that he sexually harassed them, according to the Times-Picayune.
The news surfaced four months after Hanna – co-founder and part-owner of the company – resigned saying simply that “I started to lose my creative juices.” Even Hans Baumann, Sucré’s CEO, offered no explanation for Hanna’s departure in a brief letter sent to the company’s 80 employees spread over three New Orleans-area stores, a kitchen, a restaurant and wholesale business of branded products.
But current and former employees say Hanna demonstrated sexually exploitative behavior toward female employees, and some even provided text messages and audio recordings as proof. They say that employees Hanna managed or mentored were subject to his sexual advances and invitations to topless pool parties. He also made people feel that they would be retaliated against if they reported his behavior, they alleged.
Hanna declined to be interviewed about the issue. Baumann also refused to an interview, instead issuing a prepared statement that stated, “When additional relevant information was discovered in the subsequent investigations, actions were taken to ensure all employees are free of sexual harassment and safe in their workplace.”
Hanna’s departure is another victory for the #MeToo movement that erupted nationwide. The movement also hit the restaurant company owned by New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh, which reportedly fostered an environment of inappropriate behavior toward female employees.