On Tuesday, celebrity chef Mario Batali alienated his upper crust clientele by comparing the acts of the banking industry to those of dictators Hitler and Stalin. On Wednesday, he tweeted his apology.

Batali was chosen to be on Time Magazine’s panel to discuss who should be named Time’s Person of the Year. The conversation was focused on who could be considered the most influential person of 2011 when Batali brought up the banking industry.

According to a report on Forbes, Batali said he believed the banking industry and “their disregard for the people that they’re supposed to be working for” has had the greatest influence on the world.

“So the ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys,” Batali said.

The original Forbes quote had Batali saying, “Their evil has had a huge effect on the world,” in reference to bankers, but reporter Jeff Bercovici later corrected the quote with an updated transcript. Batali responded in a tweet that Bercovici “deliberately misquoted me for a pr land grab.”

But the damage had been done by then. Not only did Batali end up in various Twitter squabbles, but the very banking industry professionals he insulted are the people who can afford to dine at his expensive New York restaurants, and they began cancelling their reservations.

Because of the stir his words caused both online and in his eateries, Batali tweeted on Wednesday, “To remove any ambiguity about my appearance at yesterday’s Time Person of the Year panel, I want to apologize for my remarks.”

He also tweeted, “It was never my intention to equate our banking industry with Hitler and Stalin, two of the most evil, brutal dictators in modern history.”

Batali owns 11 restaurants, a bar and a wine shop in New York, is host of the show ‘Molto Mario‘ on the Food Network and co-host of ABC’s ‘The Chew.’

[The Washington Post]