The portly proponent of simple and pure Italian cuisine
Mario Batali was born in 1960 in Seattle, Washington. To help pay for his education at Rutgers University in New Jersey (where he studied Spanish theater and economics), he worked at a local restaurant called "Stuff Yer Face." Batali began as a lowly dishwasher, but soon moved up to pizza cook.
Following his graduation from Rutgers in 1982, Batali moved on to a formal education in the culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in London, England. He dropped out after only a short stint at the cooking school, citing a lack of interest. Batali then moved to the tiny northern Italian village of Borgo Capanne (population: 200), where he landed a position as a chef's apprentice. For the next three years, he studied the nuances of Italian cuisine. It was here that he formed the basis of his traditional Italian culinary philosophy – namely, that Italian food should be made with the freshest, highest quality seasonal ingredients available. Batali is a believer in the simple beauty of food, arguing that dishes should never be burdened with impure or low quality ingredients or too many competing flavors.
In 2005, Batali was named the recipient of the James Beard Foundation's "Outstanding Chef Award." He was named "Man of the Year" in the chef category by the magazine GQ in 1999.
Along with his business partner, Batali has opened a number of restaurants since 1998, all located in New York City. These include Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca (which received three stars from the New York Times and was named 1998's Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation), Lupa Osteria Romana, Esca, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, Casa Mono, Bar Jamon, Bistro du Vent and Del Posto. Batali and his partner also own a shop called "Italian Wine Merchants," which opened in 1999.
In the Media
Batali has starred in four Food Network television programs, including "Molto Mario" and "Ciao America with Mario Batali." He's also a regular on the hit "Iron Chef America", and has made appearances in an ad campaign for GladWare.
Batali has authored four cookbooks, including Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages and Mario Batali Holiday Food : Family Recipes for the Most Festive Time of the Year.