5 Things You Didn’t Know About Mario Batali

19 Sep

Happy Birthday, Mario Batali!

Today is celebrity chef, restauranteur, and Italian food aficionado  Mario Batali’s birthday.  We all know he is a super successful chef, has written several cookbooks, is a Food Network star and has more than 15 restaurants under his belt. He is best known for wearing his signature orange Crocs and for the massive, multi-level Italian food emporium, EATALY, that he and his business partner and friend Joe Bastianich opened in 2010 in NYC. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about him:Mario Batali never graduated from culinary school.  He was enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu cooking program in London but dropped out due to “lack of interest.”  He went on to complete an apprenticeship with world renowned Chef Marco Pierre White and then completed 3 years of culinary training in Northern Italy.

Last week, the Mario Batali Foundation, along with Books for Kids, opened a new library at the Goddard Riverside Day Care Center in Manhattan. This was the third library that the Mario Batali Foundation funded.  Batali and the foundation are extremely passionate about helping children learn to read.  He said, “[t]o be able to help children read…to give them this fundamental building block to a successful life is remarkable.

Mario Batali and Jimmy Fallon are golf buddies and play regularly in New Jersey.  They are also buddies off the course.  Batali has appeared on Fallon’s show several times, and Fallon is a huge supporter of the Mario Battali Foundation.  Fallon also likes to imitate Batali’s grocery store runway walk.  He tells a funny story about grocery shopping with Batali in Ireland, where he made Batali buy a grill pan from his own cookware line.  Batali still had to pay full price, even though his picture was on the label.

He successfully participated in “The Food Stamp Challenge.” Along with being a Iron Chef, Mario Batali also partnered with the New York City Food Bank to help spread awareness about possible food stamp cuts; the cuts were clearly a pressing issue because food stamps help put food on the table of 46 million Americans.  For $31 per person/per week, Chef Batali and his family took the challenge and experienced what millions of families go through by making delicious and nutritious meals using only the food stamps can buy.  Even creating a “menu” threw this chef off, as he had to create a grocery list and stick to eating 3 meals a day.  The end result?  He and his family had to cut out luxuries, but raising awareness and walking in the shoes of millions of Americans was more important.  He encouraged others to partake in the challenge, as well.  If Mario Batali can do it, so can you.

He (not so) secretly wants to be a rockstar.  And apparently he plays a mean air guitar while he cooks.  Rock on, Mario!

Photo by Charles Haynes (Charles Haynes’ flickr account) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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