Mario Batali believes that olive oil is as precious as gold, shorts are acceptable attire for every season and food, like most things, is best when left to its own simple beauty. To that end, Mario creates magic night after night in his many New York City Italian hot spots, the flagship of which is Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, an award-winning Greenwich Village restaurant where Mario has seamlessly combined traditional Italian principles with intelligent culinary adventure since June 1998.
Raised in Seattle, Mario initially studied the golden age of Spanish theater at Rutgers University. Soon after graduating, he took his first bite of culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in London, from which he withdrew almost immediately due to a "lack of interest." An apprenticeship with London’s legendary chef Marco Pierre White and three years of intense culinary training in the Northern Italian village of Borgo Capanne (population 200) gave him the essential skills and knowledge to return to his native U.S., anxious to plant his orange-clogged feet firmly in the Italian restaurant business.
Always eager to educate the masses about Italian cuisine, Mario hosts two Food Network programs, Molto Mario and Ciao America. He also engages in fierce culinary battles in the Food Network series Iron Chef America. Mario has authored Simple Italian Food (Clarkson Potter, 1998), Mario Batali Holiday Food (Clarkson Potter, 2000) and The Babbo Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2002). His latest book Molto Italiano-327Simple Italian Recipes (Ecco, 2005) is his most ambitious cookbook to date.
Among his many accolades, Mario was named Man of the Year in the chef category by GQ in 1999. In 2002 he won the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: New York City award and in 2005 the James Beard Foundation awarded Mario Outstanding Chef of the Year. Mario is also one of the recipients of the 2001 D'Artagnan Cervena Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America, a prestigious lifetime achievement award.
In addition to Babbo, Mario also owns Lupa, a Roman-style trattoria in Greenwich Village, and Italian Wine Merchants, a wine shop off Union Square. Esca, a southern Italian seafood trattoria, opened near the Theater District in April 2000 and in January 2003, Mario and partner Joseph Bastianich opened another downtown eatery, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, located near historic Washington Square Park. Mario and Bastianich went on to open Bistro du Vent, which serves southern French fare around the corner from Esca. In the winter of 2005, the duo opened Del Posto, a high-end Italian spot in the trendy Meatpacking District.
Mario splits his time between New York City’s Greenwich Village and Northport, Michigan with his wife Susi Cahn of Coach Dairy Goat Farm, and their two sons, Benno and Leo.
Iron Chef America Profile:
Restaurants: Babbo, Lupa, Otto, Esca, Casa Mono, Bar Jamon, Bistro Du Vent, Del Posto
Cuisine: Italian, Spanish, and French
Interests: Family, travel, golf
Ideal secret ingredient: Seafood
Culinary inspirations: Alain Ducasse, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters
Ideal judge: Bart Starr or Jeremiah Tower, two of my heroes
Culinary secret weapon: Vin cotto or balsamic vinegar
Favorite restaurant: Pearl Oyster, Mesa Grill, or Gray’s Papaya
Favorite food: Anything anyone else makes
Food you won’t go near: Durian
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Fried grasshoppers
Favorite food destination: Bologna for lasagna, Brodo for tortellini
Alternative dream job: Pool boy in Malibu
Read Mario Batali's Bio