We talk to the chef and host about his new partnership as well as updates on all his other ventures
Mario Batali is certainly busy — between his restaurants, The Chew, Eataly, and his kids coming out with a book, you wouldn't think he had time for another partnership. But we recently caught up with Molto Mario at an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of Hellmann's Mayonnaise. Batali has a contest going with Hellmann's to have someone join him at the world's longest picnic table. Not a bad celebration for 100 years.
We also discussed all of his other ventues. His kids' cookbook, he says, actually came up organically after his children made him a homemade book as a surprise present for his 50th birthday. His publisher, naturally, saw it as an opportunity: "I was overcome with joy," Batali said. "It was the coolest, funnest, sweetest thing ever. Well, my publisher... he said, is there a way we can 'ca-ching' on this?" He is most proud of the fact that 50 percent of the proceeds from the book are going to charity.
We also talked about Eataly expansions — they will soon be opening in Istanbul, Chicago, and eventually São Paulo. "It's so well recieved by everybody that we're going to make more," he said. "What you have to find are likely partners in the location that will help you find the right space."
On his day job, he is looking forward to do more with The Chew, including a few non-daytime events. He notes, "They are toying with some prime-time specials; there is going to be one on May 25."
For our full interview with Batali, watch the interview above!
Chef Batali Offers Recipes With New Book
Just in time, Chef Mario Batali dishes recipes perfect for summer grilling.
May 23, 2008 -- Mario Batali joined "Good Morning America" today to celebrate his sixth cookbook, "Italian Grill."
Batali showed the anchors how to prepare his Spicy Black Pepper-Coated Drumstricks, or as he likes to say "buffalo wings go to Italy," and other dishes perfect for summer grilling.
Get Batali's recipes for his signature Drumsticks, Grilled Vegetable Salad, Grilled Corn and Eggplant Parmigiana Packets below:
Grilled Vegetable Salad Capri-Style
This is a typical Italian way of preparing vegetables, but I first had it in a little restaurant called La Capannina on the Isle of Capri, and so I think of it as Capri-style. The vegetables listed here are merely guidelines?as always, the fresher and more seasonal, the better.
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon Colman's dry mustard
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 small Asian or Italian eggplants
12 baby zucchini with flowers or 4 small zucchini
12 spears pencil asparagus
12 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (thin slivers)
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, mustard, pepper flakes, olive oil, and orange juice (reserve the zest for garnish). Set aside.
Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut the peppers into quarters and remove the cores and seeds. If using baby zucchini, remove the blossoms and set aside cut the zucchini lengthwise in half. If using small zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices (discard the first and last slice from each). Cut the onions into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Trim the scallions. Snap off the tough bottom parts of the asparagus stalks.
Place the vegetables on two large baking sheets. Brush lightly with some of the marinade and season lightly with salt. Place on the grill over medium-high to high heat (you will probably have to cook the vegetables in batches) and cook, turning once or twice, until tender and slightly charred on both sides: the eggplant will take about 8 to 10 minutes, the peppers 10 to 12 minutes, the zucchini 6 to 8 minutes, the onions and scallions 4 to 6 minutes,and the asparagus 5 to 7 minutes. Remove each vegetable from the grill as it is done and return to the baking sheets.
Cut the peppers into ½-inch-wide strips. Arrange the vegetables decoratively on a large serving platter and drizzle with the remaining marinade. Sprinkle with the orange zest, the zucchini blossoms if you have them, and the basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Spicy Black Pepper-Coated Drumsticks
Buffalo wings go to Italy: drumsticks in a spicy buttermilk marinade, red wine? Gorgonzola dressing, and fennel sticks standing in for the celery. Set out bowls of the sauce for dipping, or let guests spoon it over their chicken and fennel?either way, everyone will be very happy.
Partly cooking the drumsticks in the oven ensures that they will cook through on the grill without charring.You can bake the chicken early in the day or even the night before.
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, preferably chipotle
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a spice or coffee grinder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place the drumsticks on a baking sheet and season all over with salt. Bake unadorned for 20 minutes (25 minutes if your drumsticks are very large).
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk, Tabasco sauce, fennel seeds, and black pepper. Set a wire rack over a large plate or a small baking sheet.
As soon as the drumsticks come out of the oven, toss them, in batches, into the buttermilk mixture and turn to coat, then place skin side up on the rack to drain. Spoon a little of the mixture, with the fennel seeds and pepper, over the top of each one, and set aside. (The drumsticks can be baked and marinated up to a day ahead leave them on the rack, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before grilling.)
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
Trim the fennel bulbs, cut lengthwise in half, and cut out most of the core. Cut into ¼-inch-wide batonettes and toss into a bowl of ice water.
Crumble the Gorgonzola into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the red wine vinegar and stir with the fork until fairly smooth. Drizzle in the oil, stirring, to make a dressing. Pour into one or more shallow bowls for dipping.
Place the drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill, cover the grill, and cook, turning occasionally at first and then more often as they start to caramelize, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
Put the drumsticks on a platter. Drain the fennel sticks, pat dry, and place on the platter next to the wings. Serve with the Gorgonzola dressing.
Corn, As Italians Would Eat It
In Mexico, I have seen groovy little stands where the vendors poach ears of corn and then paint it with mayonnaise, dust it with chile flakes and grated queso fresco, and squeeze lime juice all over the whole thing. They do not do that in Italy, but this is what they might do. It's fantastic.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 to 1½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a gas grill.
Place the corn on the hottest part of the grill and cook for 3 minutes, or until grill marks appear on the first side. Roll each ear over a quarter turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then repeat two more times.
Meanwhile, mix the oil and vinegar on a large flat plate. Spread the Parmigiano on another flat plate.
When the corn is cooked, roll each ear in the oil and vinegar mixture, shake off the extra oil, and dredge in the Parmigiano to coat lightly. Place on a platter, sprinkle with the mint and pepper flakes, and serve immediately.
Eggplant Parmigiana Packets
Grilling eggplant brings out its smoky flavor, and it requires far less oil than frying, making this a much lighter version than the all-too-typical tired eggplant Parm. Serve hot or at room temperature, two little packets per person.
About 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 12 thin slices
12 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (thin slivers)
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
Trim the eggplant and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices, discarding the first and last slices from each one you should have 12 slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and lightly brush on both sides with olive oil, using about 3 tablespoons oil. Place on the grill and cook, turning once, until golden brown and soft, about 2 minutes on each side return the slices to the baking sheet as they are cooked.
In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, thyme, and tomato sauce. Lay the eggplant slices out on a work surface, with a narrow end toward you. Divide the bread crumb mixture among them, using a scant 1/4 cup for each and placing it on the lower half of each one. Sprinkle with the grated Parmigiano and lay the slices of mozzarella on top. Fold the tops of the eggplant slices over to create little packages and transfer to a clean baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or as long as overnight, to marry the flavors.
Preheat the gas grill again or prepare another fire in the charcoal grill.
Carefully brush the eggplant packets on both sides with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place them gently on the hottest part of the grill and cook, unmoved, for 2 minutes, or until nice grill marks appear on the first side. Gently flip over with a large spatula and cook for 2 more minutes, or until marked on the second side and hot throughout.
Carefully transfer the packets to a platter and sprinkle with the basil. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Basic Tomato Sauce
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ medium carrot, finely shredded
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the carrot and thyme and cook, stirring, until the carrot is softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, with their juices, breaking up the tomatoes with your hands as you add them, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until the sauce is as thick as hot cereal, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and remove from the heat. (Once cool, the sauce can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.
Chef Mario Batali shows dramatic weight loss during court appearance
Chef Mario Batali has largely stayed away from the cameras following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and his firing from “The Chew” in late 2017, but on Friday he appeared in a Boston court and showed off his dramatic weight loss.
Batali, 58, was in court to plead not guilty to a charge that he forcibly groped and kissed a woman at a restaurant in 2017. New court photos of the chef show his slimmed-down appearance in dark blue jeans and a bright purple sweater over a blue oxford paired with a pinstriped blazer.
His ensemble failed to include his signature orange Crocs. Instead, the disgraced restaurateur swapped his Crocs for a pair of Yeezy 350 V2s in a steeple gray/beluga/solar red colorway, which originally retailed for $220.
Mario Batali outside court AP
The woman alleging to be the groping victim told authorities that in March 2017, Batali groped her breasts, buttocks and groin and kissed her face after posing with her for a photograph.
Batali has denied wrongdoing.
“He intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali,” said his lawyer, Anthony Fuller.
Mario Batali Appears in Court to Deny Charges of Indecent Assault
In Boston, the celebrity chef pleaded not guilty to charges that he groped a woman in a bar.
BOSTON — The celebrity chef Mario Batali stepped into a courtroom crowded with reporters on Friday morning and entered a plea of not guilty to indecent assault and battery of a woman he met in a bar here two years ago.
The woman, who had long been a fan of Mr. Batali’s, told the Boston police last June that what she intended as a selfie session with the chef in March 2017 turned into an assault when he grabbed her breasts, buttocks and groin, forcibly kissed her mouth and cheeks, and suggested they head to his nearby hotel. The woman is about 30 years younger than the chef, who is now 58.
Although several chefs and restaurant owners have been accused of sexual harassment and abuse since the #MeToo movement spread into the world of restaurants and hospitality in the fall of 2017, Mr. Batali is the only one so far to face criminal charges. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender.
Mr. Batali arrived at Boston Municipal Court on Friday looking much trimmer than before, wearing a blazer, no tie and casual trousers. He had forgone his signature orange Crocs for athletic shoes accented in orange. He used a back entrance, walked into the courtroom and immediately headed into a conference room before returning to the courtroom with his lawyer.
Mr. Batali was allowed to remain free without bail on the condition that he stay away from the woman who accused him. His next pretrial hearing was set for July 12. Asked by the judge if he understood that he would not need to appear at the case’s next court date, Mr. Batali answered, “Yes” in a near-whisper. It was the only thing he said during the hearing, which lasted less than five minutes.
The criminal complaint was filed last month, and mirrored the narrative in a civil suit brought against Mr. Batali by the woman, Natali Tene, 29, in August 2018. Three months before she sued, Ms. Tene told the food website Eater that she had been having dinner and drinks at Towne Stove and Spirits, a bar in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston that has since closed, when she spotted Mr. Batali and took a photograph of him with her phone.
He called her over, suggested they take a selfie, and then proceeded to grope and kiss her, according to her lawsuit and the criminal complaint. Ms. Tene is seeking money damages for emotional distress, anxiety and self-doubt she said she suffered because of the encounter. She was not in the courtroom on Friday.
The two people listed as witnesses on the criminal complaint, reached by telephone on Thursday, said they were surprised that their names had been included in the documents, and declined to comment. One, a friend who was having a drink with Ms. Tene that night, said he had been deposed for the lawsuit, and had repeated his version of events to the police.
Through a lawyer, Mr. Batali denied the accounts in both the civil and criminal complaints. “The charges, brought by the same individual without any new basis, are without merit,” the lawyer, Anthony E. Fuller, said in a statement to The New York Times. “He intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali.”
Mr. Batali is one of many chefs and restaurateurs hit by accusations of sexual assault and harassment in the restaurant industry that began tumbling out in the fall of 2017 in cities like San Francisco, New York and New Orleans.
What to Cook Right Now
Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the coming days. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.
- Do not miss Yotam Ottolenghi’s incredible soba noodles with ginger broth and crunchy ginger. for fungi is a treat, and it pairs beautifully with fried snapper with Creole sauce.
- Try Ali Slagle’s salad pizza with white beans, arugula and pickled peppers, inspired by a California Pizza Kitchen classic.
- Alexa Weibel’s modern take on macaroni salad, enlivened by lemon and herbs, pairs really nicely with oven-fried chicken.
- A dollop of burrata does the heavy lifting in Sarah Copeland’s simple recipe for spaghetti with garlic-chile oil.
As more women came forward to tell their stories, some of these men either stepped away from direct oversight of their businesses, saw the size of their empires shrink or found themselves the subject of investigations and lawsuits.
The New York Police Department investigated three sexual assault complaints against Mr. Batali, but a department official confirmed in January that it had closed those investigations because of a lack of evidence and limits imposed by the statute of limitations.
Mr. Batali’s behavior first came to public light in December 2017 when four women told Eater that he had touched them inappropriately as part of a pattern of behavior they and others said spanned at least two decades.
Other accounts of Mr. Batali’s behavior were revealed in a Times article the next day several women described incidents of sexual harassment and assault at the Spotted Pig, a favorite Manhattan playground of Mr. Batali’s and a number of other well-known chefs, musicians and sports stars.
A dozen employees described incidents in which the owner, Ken Friedman, 56, groped them in public, forcibly touched them in private as he demanded sex or made text requests for nude pictures or group sex. Mr. Batali was an investor in the restaurant and a regular, attending after-hours parties that included public sex and nudity. One server said the staff had nicknamed him “the Red Menace.”
Mr. Batali almost immediately stepped away from the daily operations of his businesses, including several high-powered restaurants in New York and Las Vegas, as well as his job as a host of the ABC daytime show “The Chew.”
He quickly issued an apology in which he did not acknowledge specific incidents but conceded that “much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses.”
He later sent a newsletter to fans, saying “I will work every day to regain your respect and trust” and included a recipe for cinnamon rolls that was widely mocked.
Mr. Batali retreated to his home in Northport, Mich. He began trying to repair the damage to his family (Mr. Batali and his wife, Susi Cahn, have two sons) and, for a time, explored the possibility of finding a way back into the food business. Much of his focus was holding on to part of the business he had built with Joe Bastianich, who for 20 years was his partner in the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group.
That effort ended in March, when the group bought out Mr. Batali’s stake in the business, leaving the chef without a restaurant.
Have They Changed the Recipe for Hellmann's Mayo?
We've been using Kraft Mayo with olive oil for quite a few years now. We like it and sometimes I can get it BOGO at Publix, so I always stock up. I ran completely out and they were out of it so I got the Hellmann's olive oil mayo which was on sale. This mayo is very runny. At first I thought something was wrong so I opened the other jar and the same thing, both jars were tightly sealed. Since I've never been a buyer of that brand I don't know if it's always been that way or are they making it differently than other brands?? I'm OK with the taste but I don't like the texture at all.
I occasionally use the Olive Oil variety, maybe for 15 years. It is runnier than the non olive oil variety. Best Foods in my area.
^^ That has been my observation as well. which is why I prefer the thicker, creamier original version.
Best Foods on west coast - Hellmann's on east coast. Same product, different names.
Rita, I've never tried the olive oil version. As Jim said, it's Best Foods in our area, too. Does the label on the jar say just "Mayonnaise" or "Mayonnaise Dressing?" I did a quick check on Hellmann's/Best Foods site and saw some reviews mentioning "runny." Some also complained about the amount of soybean oil in it. IDK. I do love Best Foods regular mayo.
ETA - This was one of the reviews.
"CONSISTENCY IS OFF! Bought this mayo last week. It seemed runny in the store, but I thought refrigeration would help. We stored on the refrigerator door as instructed, but it is still extremely watery. Bread soaks this right up. Honestly it is nasty. It smells and tastes the same, but they need to work on the recipe."
Mayonaise Dressing with olive oil. IIRC The name has changed over time, Dressing was added.
If you have not had the product, nor are aware of it .
I went and looked at the jar and yes, it says "mayonaise dressing". I hadn't noticed that when I bought it. I don't know what they are doing to it but it's not right, Kraft's isn't like that at all.
Jim, yes. I'm aware of the product since I see it when I buy my Best Foods regular mayo. Do you mean it was originally labeled "Hellmann's Mayonnaise With Olive Oil?" I was just wondering if "Dressing" was added due to issues (such as Rita's) with the thinner consistency.
Rita, they must be making it differently than Kraft or other brands. It surprises me a little since Hellmann's/Best Foods regular mayo is so popular. It might not hurt to let them know you didn't like it. Sure sounds like you're not the only one!
I did send them an email, not that I intend to buy it again but I also looked around on the web and it looks like there are a lot of other people who aren't happy with the texture of their products anymore.
There are legal definitions of manufactured foods such as mayonnaise, margarine and pizza. If it says mayonnaise dressing, it's probably because some part of it started as mayonnaise and then they enhanced it. It's probably the quantity of oil. Mayonnaise with olive oil, sounds like olive oil added to mayo, whereas olive oil mayonaise sounds like mayonnaise made out of olive oil. Have you looked at the ingredients?
pillog is correct. If you look at the ingredient list, it includes the soybean oil that is the base for their real mayonnaise, plus it also includes olive oil as well as couple of other extra ingredients. Exactly as described: an enhanced mayo base. Lower calories and in fats but higher sodium, cholesterol and carbs.
The problem is not many know how to read labels. Or what any of it really means.
". and it looks like there are a lot of other people who aren't happy with the texture of their products anymore."
I don't know about their Olive Oil Mayonnaise Dressing, but the texture of their basic mayo is still fine. It's the only brand I use, although I know opinions vary all over the place when it comes to brands/types of mayo.
I wasn't happy with the extras such as starch when I was on a restrictive diet, so we did a taste test of a bunch of "pure" mayonnaise types. I can make a nice soft mayonnaise, but haven't learned the trick of making it the stiffer jarred texture, and that's what we like for sandwiches. The winner here was Whole Foods 365. Good flavor. Not as stiff as the Best Foods/Hellman's with the starch, but good enough. :) BTW, I much prefer safflower oil for high heat cooking, but the jarred safflower mayonnaise tastes nasty. I don't know if it's their recipe or the oil, but ick.
plllog, I have the same issue when making mayo. Tasty but we also like it stiffer for sandwiches.
Plllog - have you tried avocado? Like your safflower, that’s what I use for high heat cooking. My MIL brought me a Costco sized container of avocado mayo but I refused it due to size so I didn’t have a chance to try it.
If I want olive oil mayo, I make my own, and I can choose which olive oil I want in it. I do dilute the olive oil with avocado oil, and I use 2/3 olive oil and 1/3 avocado oil. It seems thick enough to me.
I haven't tried avocado mayo. No Costco sized bottles in my fridge! It's a good idea. If I see a little jar, I'll try it. I use avocado oil for frying when I want it to be more like butter. It's very viscous. Safflower oil is the opposite. It's very thin and light so excellent for frying without seeming so greasy. Thanks for the suggestion.
Avocado oil has a pretty long shelf life once opened. Not like a nut oil at all. I only use avocado and good EV olive. Good butter in the freezer. I keep it simple. Oh, and a small toasted sesame oil in the fridge but so strong not much is needed.
Simple cold pressed oils. Safflower oil is heavily processed unless 365 but it looses the high heat properties when expeller or cold pressed.
Mayo is 3 minutes or less with a stick blender. Piggy back the 3 minute chore by adding lemon, vinegar, ginger, herbs, blue cheese or buttermilk, and make a dressing in the same mayo container without washing it. Mayo for a week and dressings for the week. Half the price than any commercial brands.
Not getting much from an olive oil added commercial mayo. They still use other heavily processed GMO oils. They are just jumping onto the 'heart healthy' train. A lot of BS in that.
I would just enjoy your favorite BluePlate or Hellman's original and just try and cut back. Use more spice and mustards and horseradish that have zero calories, zero fats.
Resist all the gifty nut oils that clog the fridge. just use fresh toasted nuts in salads.
My homemade mayo is not runny at all.
I do love my Hellman's. First summer BLT is not the same without it. Or my holiday crab cakes. A rare treat.
(you can fridge avocado oil in smaller glass containers)
This is a timely post. Just returned from DD's house and she doesn't care about mayo brand (hard to believe since she grew up in a house that only used Best Foods). When I opened her fridge I saw that she had Kraft mayo. I proceeded to make tuna salad and really thought it tasted BETTER than the usual Best Foods. I had DH taste it too and he was blown away-- in his mind there's nothing better than BF, but he's been complaining that it's not like it used to be. Maybe we'll be converts. ETA that I do have Kensington's mayo in the house for a "healthier" take on mayo-- but it's not the same as the old BF.
Kensington's is soft and sweet. :)
I never liked Kraft as a kid. I wonder what they've done to it to make it blown away worthy? Maybe something in the "natural flavors contains mustard"? MSG? There is sugar, which is what I don't like about Sir Kensington's, though maybe the Kraft isn't as sweet. Best Foods used to be so good! I don't understand why they'd change it. Of course, Heinz did it to the ketchup such that it started tasting like plastic, but then they brought out Simply, which does taste like proper Heinz, or at least close enough.
ETA--I realized later that the branding looks different. It says "Kraft Real Mayo" and has a blue label, like they're trying to be Hellman's/Best Foods. It used to be a red label that just said Mayo. They also have "Homestyle" which is billed as "rich and creamy" and has the positions of salt ahead of sugar (reversed), plus doesn't list onion, garlic and paprika.
Thanks for the info about Kraft. I'll do a taste test tomorrow for Kensington's. I'm not a big fan of mayo in any case, but I don't think Kensington's is sweet.
I was brought up on Best Foods, but I’ve been using Kraft mayo for years because it has less sodium. Took a brief departure to use Whole Foods 365 mayo for a few years once I discovered it was so low sodium. But it always tasted a bit “fishy” to me and had a texture that wasn’t creamy. Last year, the formula changed and sodium increased, so I’ve gone back to Kraft. I’ve noticed, however, that once I get close to the bottom of the jar, the mayo seems to thin out. It starts out fine, though. Not quite the same issue as the original posting, but I wonder if some of the modifications to “healthify” products have contributed to the texture changes.
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Is she cheating on Shane Farley already?
Since De Laurentiis has unfortunately gained the reputation of not exactly being a one-man woman, the rumors are already flying that she's going behind Farley's back, too. According to the admittedly questionable Radar Online, De Laurentiis was seen having dinner at "a swanky private club in NYC" with model/actor Kevin Navayne. They supposedly shared "the smallest table near the bar," and were "speaking very closely together, and whispering in each other's ears," according to an eyewitness. Nothing else ever came of the random gossip tidbit, and as of this writing De Laurentiis and Farley are still going strong.
Action Bronson on What He's Taught Mario Batali
Action Bronson’s new book Fuck, That’s Delicious is not just another cookbook with recipes. Sure, the book has detailed instructions on making Meyhem Lauren’s chicken patty potpie, golden beet poke, and hamburgers with black truffles and 24-month comté (you made that for dinner last night, right?), but there are also full two-page spreads explaining the anatomy of a proper bagel with cheese, and an extensive list of Bronson-approved pairings, which include grilled cheese and ketchup, and Wendy’s Spicy Chicken sandwich and a Frosty. (This last one is canon.) Through his career on VICELAND, Bronson has become one of the internet’s most entertaining food personalities—and his book delivers just as much loud enthusiasm for eating fucking delicious things as his show by the same name.
There is also plenty of free-flowing commentary and anecdotes by Bronson on his 100 favorite things, which include Taco Bell’s Cheesy Gordita Crunch, Jamaica, natural wines, and Kowloon Char Siu Bao. Below is our interview with the self-proclaimed Mr. Baklava on his culinary journey growing up, his cookbook, and much more.
GQ: Talk to me about the importance of food in your house growing up.
Action Bronson: It’s kind of ridiculous how everyone needs to fucking eat to grow. Everyone needs to eat to grow, and I just needed to eat slightly more than everybody else, you know what I’m saying? I like food. In my household, we ate lunch and dinner together, so it was a bonding situation as well. But it’s not like you sit at tables. You sat on the floor around the smaller tables.
My grandmother would make phenomenal food and everyone would just be fucking blown away by how good the food tasted. We’d be talking about that, and my grandmother would be sitting there, eating and critiquing her own food.
You dedicated your cookbook to your grandmother. What sorts of things did she teach you to make?
She introduced me to Albanian food. It was typical Albanian food, made for family, made by hand, made with love, made with bread three times a day. It was all different kinds of meals, from things that took hours to make, to things that were just quick. Albanian food is peasant food, but it’s also very intricate as well. Preparation would take hours for certain things. The only ingredient would be the dough and cheese and it would take mad long to make this dish. The mastery is what makes it.
So you spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her.
Absolutely. The kitchen wasn’t the only place where food went down, though. The kitchen wasn’t big enough to make certain things, so, we would take it out to the living room, and the living room would be where the food was being made. My grandmother would be prepping things there, all kinds of stuff. If there was a party or wedding, my grandmother would be making hundreds of things for everyone. She was the community cook.
[And she taught me] an entire style—the attention to detail, how things have to be done very meticulously, how they have to be done very specifically or else they won’t taste the same.
Today, kids can watch food shows like yours on VICELAND, they can go on Instagram, or go to roughly a million websites to learn about food. What did you do to absorb all that knowledge back when you grew up?
It was by learning in the kitchen and a lot of magazines my mother had: Gourmet, Food and Wine, Edible Queens, Edible New York. There was always good reading material around, and I love looking at pictures of things, whether it’s graffiti, art, or food. I’m just a visual character. You could call me a voyeur. I like to watch.
__Mario Batali wrote the foreword to the book. What’s that friendship like?__
He’s one of my favorite human beings. I’ve been watching him since I was a kid. I hate how people on the Internet always call me their spirit animal, but I feel like Batali is my spirit animal. He’s a wild man, he loves food, loves art and culture, and is just an all-around great man.
What have you two taught each other about food?
He’s taught me a lot about food. He’s introduced me to some of the best things I’ve ever eaten. He’s taken me to 3-star Michelin restaurants in Paris and Stockholm. The knowledge bestowed upon me from him is unbelievable.
You know, it’s hard to teach somebody like him about food. He’s up on things. But I think I’ve shown him that you can come from anywhere and have an appreciation for anything. I feel like I am the perfect example of that. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I’m a very humble kid from Flushing, Queens, but I love the finer things in life too, and that was before I had the money to obtain them. When I say finer things, I’m speaking about farm food that’s not garbage, those are the fine food that’s not garbage. It doesn’t have to be something monetary.
What was the decision process behind choosing 100 items for the cookbook?
It kind of just happened. I was talking a lot with Rachel Wharton, who helped me write the book. I kept babbling and babbling and it could have been 500 things but we eventually narrowed it down to 100, because we have to do at least five books. [It’s gonna be] like the fucking Encyclopedia Britannica or something.
Is that the plan?
That’s always the plan: to do more than just one thing.
In the book, you talk a little bit about working as a chef for the New York Mets. Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories you care to share?
It was a fucking funny place to work, a lot of crazy people working there. I was doing really well and was about to get promoted, then one day some kid was just fucking with me, and he fucked with me one too many times, and I threw him over a desk just as the general manager walked in and were doing their rounds. So, Omar Minaya (former Mets GM) and all these dudes, they were doing their rounds, and saw I threw this kid over a table and I got fired on the spot.
Things worked out okay for you though.
Things ended up working well.
One of the most enduring food trends of our time is people lining up for things—have you ever lined up for anything?
Unfortunately, I have. I was in the heart of where they line up for everything: Japan. I was in Harajuku, and literally, I was getting cotton candy the size of a top hat, but I had to wait an hour in line for it. But it was fun because I made light of it. I was laughing. I had fun. It was a weird experience. Other than that, I don’t wait for shit because I can always find something better elsewhere, or I can make it better myself. I don’t like standing in line for anything. It’s ridiculous. I’m the type of guy who’ll stand there for a second and be like, nah, I’m getting out of here.
What’s the next cookbook going to look like?
The next cookbook is gonna look neon green. Very, very neon green. If you know what I mean.
Mario Batali on Hellmann's, His Kids' Book, and What's Next - Recipes
Mario Batali--Big American Cookbook
250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA
Mario Batali's delicious deep dive into American Regional cooking with 250 recipes--from San Diego Fish Tacos to Boston Cream Pie.
Over two years in the making, with Batali searching for truly delicious dishes from all corners of the US, this definitive cookbook features the best America has to offer. With over 250 simple recipes celebrating the treasures of the state fairs and the dishes of the local rotary clubs and ethnic groups. Batali has interpreted these regional gems with the same excitement and passion that he has approached traditional Italian food.
Covering the Northeast/New England, the Mid-Atlantic, the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes, the Heartland, the Southwest, and the Pacific Coast, this book will share everything from the BBQ styles of Texas, the Smokeys and the Carolinas, to the seafood soups from yankee Boston to the spicy gumbos of the Gulf Coast and the berry pies of the Pacific Northwest.
All the dishes are very simple and do-able--from Philly Cheesesteaks to Marionberry cobbler. And while Batali uses recipes passed down through the generations, he also shares hints on what he would add to the recipe to take the flavor up a notch.
This is THE American cookbook you will want to own.
Praise For Mario Batali--Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA&hellip
"This colorfully illustrated collection celebrates iconic American cooking with generally easily reproduced dishes that will delight people for a family dinner or for a special event . . . Batali makes every dish look like great fun, and it's impossible not to share his enthusiasm. His popularity alone will make this a required purchase . . . but the variety of content will be welcomed by even those who aren't already fans."—Mark Knoblauch, Booklist
"Culinary details, as well as Batali's essays on his two-year journey across the U.S. (which include further recommendations), set this volume apart from its peers . . . Batali fans and collectors of Americana will appreciate this reliable and well-curated compendium."—Publishers Weekly
"There's not an ounce of pretense amid the 250-plus dishes that comprise the celeb chef's latest offering. Instead, you'll find Batali's talented take on old-school regional fare."—Modern Farmer
Grand Central Life & Style, 9781455584710, 512pp.
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
About the Author
Mario Batali counts 26 restaurants, ten cookbooks, numerous television shows, and three Eataly marketplaces among his ever-expanding empire of deliciousness. His cookbooks include the James Beard Award-winning Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes (2005) and his popular cookbook, America -- Farm to Table .
Batali appears daily on ABC's The Chew , a daytime talk show on ABC that celebrates and explores life through food. He and his co-hosts won their first Emmy as Best Talk Show Hosts this year.
Web Extra: Hear Author Bill Buford Read an Excerpt from 'Heat' Detailing a Dinner Party with Mario Batali
The first glimpse I had of what Mario Batali's friends had described to me as the "myth of Mario" was on a cold Saturday night in January 2002, when I invited him to a birthday dinner. Batali, the chef and co-owner of Babbo, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, is such a famous and proficient cook that he's rarely invited to people's homes for a meal, he told me, and he went out of his way to be a grateful guest. He arrived bearing his own quince-flavored grappa (the rough, distilled end-of-harvest grape juices rendered almost drinkable by the addition of the fruit) a jar of homemade nocino (same principle, but with walnuts) an armful of wine and a white, dense slab of lardo -- literally, the raw "lardy" back of a very fat pig, one he'd cured himself with herbs and salt. I was what might generously be described as an enthusiastic cook, more confident than competent (that is, keen but fundamentally clueless), and to this day I am astonished that I had the nerve to ask over someone of Batali's reputation, along with six guests who thought they'd have an amusing evening witnessing my humiliation. (Mario was a friend of the birthday friend, so I'd thought -- why not invite him, too? -- but when, wonder of wonders, he then accepted and I told my wife, Jessica, she was apoplectic with wonder: "What in the world were you thinking of, inviting a famous chef to our apartment for dinner? Now what are we going to do?")
In the event, there was little comedy, mainly because Mario didn't give me a chance. Shortly after my being instructed that only a moron would let his meat rest by wrapping it in foil after cooking it, I cheerfully gave up and let Batali tell me what to do. By then he'd taken over the evening, anyway. Not long into it, he'd cut the lardo into thin slices and, with a startling flourish of intimacy, laid them individually on our tongues, whispering that we needed to let the fat melt in our mouths to appreciate its intensity. The lardo was from a pig that, in the last months of its seven-hundred-and-fifty-pound life, had lived on apples, walnuts, and cream ("The best song sung in the key of pig"), and Mario convinced us that, as the fat dissolved, we'd detect the flavors of the animal's happy diet -- there, in the back of the mouth. No one that evening had knowingly eaten pure fat before ("At the restaurant, I tell the waiters to call it prosciutto bianco"), and by the time Mario had persuaded us to a third helping everyone's heart was racing. Batali was an impressively dedicated drinker -- he mentioned in passing that, on trips to Italy made with his Babbo co-owner, Joe Bastianich, the two of them had been known to put away a case of wine during an evening meal -- and while I don't think that any of us drank anything like that, we were, by now, very thirsty (the lardo, the salt, the human heat of so much jollity) and, cheered on, found ourselves knocking back more and more. I don't know. I don't really remember. There were also the grappa and the nocino, and one of my last images is of Batali at three in the morning -- a stoutly round man with his back dangerously arched, his eyes closed, a long red ponytail swinging rhythmically behind him, an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth, his red Converse high-tops pounding the floor -- playing air guitar to Neil Young's "Southern Man." Batali was forty-one, and I remember thinking it had been a long time since I'd seen a grown man play air guitar. He then found the soundtrack for Buena Vista Social Club, tried to salsa with one of the women guests (who promptly fell over a sofa), moved on to her boyfriend, who was unresponsive, put on a Tom Waits CD instead, and sang along as he washed the dishes and swept the floor. He reminded me of an arrangement we'd made for the next day -- when I'd invited Batali to dinner, he'd reciprocated by asking me to join him at a New York Giants football game, tickets courtesy of the commissioner of the NFL, who had just eaten at Babbo -- and then disappeared with three of my friends, assuring them that, with his back-of-the-hand knowledge of downtown establishments open until five, he'd find a place to continue the evening. They ended up at Marylou's in the Village -- in Batali's description, "A wise guy joint where you can get anything at any time of night, and none of it good."
It was daylight when Batali got home. I learned this from his building superintendent the next morning, as the two of us tried to get Batali to wake up -- the commissioner's driver was waiting outside. When Batali finally appeared, forty-five minutes later, he was momentarily perplexed, standing in the doorway of his apartment in his underwear and wondering why I was there, too. (Batali has a remarkable girth, and it was startling to see him clad so.) Then, in minutes, he transformed himself into what I would come to know as the Batali look: the shorts, the clogs, the wraparound sunglasses, the red hair pulled back into its ponytail. One moment, a rotund Clark Kent in his underpants the next, "Molto Mario" -- the clever, many-layered name of his cooking television program, which, in one of its senses, literally means Very Mario (that is, an intensified Mario, an exaggerated Mario) -- and a figure whose renown I didn't appreciate until, as guests of the commissioner, we were allowed onto the field before the game. Fans of the New York Giants are so famously brutish as to be cartoons (bare-chested on a wintry morning or wearing hard hats in any case, not guys putting in their domestic duty in the kitchen), and I was surprised by how many recognized the ponytailed chef, who stood facing them, arms crossed over his chest, beaming. "Hey, Molto!" they shouted. "What's cooking, Mario?" "Mario, make me a pasta!" At the time, Molto Mario was shown on afternoons on cable television, and I found a complex picture of the working metropolitan male emerging, one rushing home the moment his shift ended to catch lessons in braising his broccoli rabe and getting just the right forked texture on his homemade orecchiette. I stood back with one of the security people, taking in the spectacle (by now members of the crowd were chanting "Molto, Molto, Molto") -- this very round man, whose manner and dress said, "Dude, where's the party?"
"I love this guy," the security man said. "Just lookin' at him makes me hungry."
Mario Batali is the most recognized chef in a city with more chefs than any other city in the world. In addition to Batali's television show -- and his appearances promoting, say, the NASCAR race track in Delaware -- he was simply and energetically omnipresent. It would be safe to say that no New York chef ate more, drank more, and was out and about as much. If you live in New York City, you will see him eventually (sooner, if your evenings get going around two in the morning). With his partner, Joe, Batali also owned two other restaurants, Esca and Lupa, and a shop selling Italian wine, and, when we met, they were talking about opening a pizzeria and buying a vineyard in Tuscany. But Babbo was the heart of their enterprise, crushed into what was originally a nineteenth-century coach house, just off Washington Square, in Greenwich Village. The building was narrow the space was crowded, jostly, and loud and the food, studiously Italian, rather than Italian-American, was characterized by an over-the-top flourish that seemed to be expressly Batali's. People went there in the expectation of excess. Sometimes I wondered if Batali was less a conventional cook than an advocate of a murkier enterprise of stimulating outrageous appetites (whatever they might be) and satisfying them intensely (by whatever means). A friend of mine, who'd once dropped by the bar for a drink and was then fed personally by Batali for the next six hours, went on a diet of soft fruit and water for three days. "This guy knows no middle ground. It's just excess on a level I've never known before -- it's food and drink, food and drink, food and drink, until you feel you're on drugs." Chefs who were regular visitors were subjected to extreme versions of what was already an extreme experience. "We're going to kill him," Batali said to me with maniacal glee as he prepared a meal for a rival who had innocently ordered a seven-course tasting menu, to which Batali added a lethal number of extra courses. The starters (all variations in pig) included lonza (the cured backstrap from the cream-apple-and-walnut herd), coppa (from the shoulder), a fried foot, a porcini mushroom roasted with Batali's own pancetta (the belly), plus ("for the hell of it") a pasta topped with guanciale (the jowls). This year, Mario was trying out a new motto: "Wretched excess is just barely enough."
Batali was born in 1960 and grew up outside Seattle: a suburban kid with a solid Leave It to Beaver upbringing. His mother, Marilyn, is English and French Canadian -- from her comes her son's flaming red hair and a fair, un-Italian complexion. The Italian is from his father, Armandino, the grandson of immigrants who arrived in the 1890s. When Mario was growing up, his father was a well-paid Boeing executive in charge of procuring airplane parts made overseas, and in 1975, after being posted to Europe, to supervise the manufacturing close-up, he moved his family to Spain. That, according to Gina, Mario's youngest sibling, was when Mario changed. ("He was already pushing the limits.") Madrid, in the post-Franco years (bars with no minimum age, hash hangouts, the world's oldest profession suddenly legalized), was a place of exhilarating license, and Mario seems to have experienced a little bit of everything on offer. He was caught growing marijuana on the roof of his father's apartment building (the first incident of what would become a theme -- Batali was later expelled from his dorm in college, suspected of dealing, and, later still, there was some trouble in Tijuana that actually landed him in jail). The marijuana association also evokes a memory of the first meals Batali remembers preparing, late-night panini with caramelized locally grown onions, a local cow's-milk Spanish cheese, and paper-thin slices of chorizo: "The best stoner munch you can imagine me and my younger brother Dana were just classic stoner kids -- we were so happy."
By the time Batali returned to the United States in 1978 to attend Rutgers University, in New Jersey, he was determined to get back to Europe ("I wanted to be a Spanish banker -- I loved the idea of making a lot of money and living a luxurious life in Madrid"), and his unlikely double major was in business management and Spanish theatre. But after being thrown out of his dorm, Batali got work as a dishwasher at a pizzeria called Stuff Yer Face (in its name alone, destiny was calling), and his life changed. He was promoted to cook, then line cook (working at one "station" in a "line" of stations, making one thing), and then asked to be manager, an offer he turned down. He didn't want the responsibility he was having too good a time. The life at Stuff Yer Face was fast (twenty-five years later, he still claims he has the record for the most pizzas made in an hour), sexy ("The most booooootiful waitresses in town"), and very buzzy ("I don't want to come off as a big druggy, but when a guy comes into the kitchen with a pizza pan turned upside down, covered with lines of crack, how can you say no?"). When, in his junior year, he attended a career conference hosted by representatives from major corporations, Batali realized he had been wrong he was never going to be a banker. He was going to be a chef.
"My mother and grandmother had always told me that I should be a cook. In fact, when I was preparing my applications for college, my mother had suggested cooking school. But I said, ‘Ma, that's too gay. I don't want to go to cooking school -- that's for fags.' " Five years later, Batali was back in Europe, attending the Cordon Bleu in London.
His father, still overseeing Boeing's foreign operations, was now based in England. Gina Batali was there, too, and recalls seeing her eldest brother only when she was getting ready for school and he was returning from his all-night escapades after attending classes during the day and then working at a pub. The pub was the Six Bells, on the King's Road in Chelsea. Mario had been bartending at the so-called American bar ("No idea what I was doing"), when a high-priced dining room opened in the back and a chef was hired to run it, a Yorkshire man named Marco Pierre White. Batali, bored by the pace of cooking school, was hired to be the new chef's slave.
Today, Marco Pierre White is regarded as one of the most influential chefs in Britain (as well as the most foul-tempered, most mercurial, and most bullying), and it's an extraordinary fortuity that these two men, both in their early twenties, found themselves in a tiny pub kitchen together. Batali didn't understand what he was witnessing: his restaurant experience had been making strombolis in New Brunswick. "I assumed I was seeing what everyone else already knew. I didn't feel like I was on the cusp of a revolution. And yet, while I had no idea this guy was about to become so famous, I could see he was preparing food from outside the box. He was a genius on the plate. I'd never worked on presentation. I just put s**t on the plate." He described White's making a deep green puree from basil leaves and then a white butter sauce, then swirling the green sauce in one direction, and the white sauce in the other, and drawing a swerving line down the middle of the plate. "I had never seen anyone draw f**king lines with two sauces." White would order Batali to follow him to market ("I was his whipping boy -- 'Yes, master,' I'd answer, ‘whatever you say, master' ") and they'd return with game birds or ingredients for some of the most improbable dishes ever to be served in an English pub: écrevisses in a reduced lobster sauce, oysters with caviar, roasted ortolan (a rare, tiny bird served virtually breathing, gulped down, innards and all, like a raw crustacean) -- "the whole menu written out in f**king French."
Excerpted from Heat by Bill Buford Copyright © 2006 by Bill Buford. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Watch the video: Mario Batali Cooks Chicken Saltimbocca with Creamy Cauliflower Fondue (January 2022).