Mario Batali, aka ‘Molto Mario’ is a popular American chef, restaurateur and television personality. His expertise includes conventional culinary training and the cultural and historical background of Italian cuisine. He is the co-owner of several restaurants in the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Born on 19th September 1960 in Seattle, Washington, Mario Batali went to live in Spain along with his family in 1975 but returned three years later to study in Rutgers University where he was a student of Spanish theater and Economics. After his graduation in 1982 he attended ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ for a short period but left after he felt that a professional kitchen was the right place for him. During his college years he worked at ‘Stuff Yer Face’ in New Jersey as a dishwasher but soon got promoted to Stromboli and pizza maker. Later he got a job as an assistant at the ‘Six Bells’ in Chelsea where he worked under the renowned Marco Pierre White. By 1985 he was a sous chef at the ‘Four Seasons Clift’ in San Francisco. Recognizing his culinary talents he was soon promoted up the ranks to control the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel’s La Marina restaurant in Santa Barbara. Batali was the youngest chef in the company to be paid such a large salary. He left this job in 1989 to move to an Italian village ‘Borgo Capanne’ where he apprenticed at the ‘La Volta’ kitchen and mastered the traditional Italian cooking style.
Mario Batali started his restaurant Po in 1993. In 1998, he established another restaurant Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca with his business partner Joseph Bastianich in Manhattan, West Village. Since then the duo has opened up 7 other restaurants which include Italian eateries like Lupa (1999), Esca (2000) and ‘Otto Enoteca Pizzeria’ (2003). His flagship restaurant has received 3 stars by the New York Times. It was also called ‘The Best New Restaurant’ of the year by the James Beard Foundation. Batali opened up Italian Wine Merchants, a retail shop. He is a member of the board of director of a non-profit organization called The Lunchbox Fund which arranges daily meals for students of township schools in South Africa.
The chef is also a host in two TV shows aired on the ‘The Food Network’ called ‘Molto Mario’ and ‘Mario Eats Italy’. He made his debut in films with ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. He was also one of the main subjects of Bill Buford’s book ‘Heat’ (2006). Batali is mostly seen dressed in his signature style of shorts and orange colored Crocs. With a huge empire of restaurants, many cook books, his line of foods and television appearances; the zealous and easy-going cooking star really deserves praise. Batali has received awards including his ‘Man of the Year’ by GQ magazine in 1999. He has also written three books; ‘Simple Italian Cooking’, ‘The Babbo Cookbook’ and ‘Mario Batali Holiday Food’. He plans to open up more restaurants in Hong Kong. Currently Mario Batali resides in New York City with his wife and two sons.