StarChefs: What first drew you
to Italy and Italian food?
Mario Batali: My family is Italian. When I was a child we
would pick blackberries, baby onions and all kinds of produce and
preserve them. Food was natural, it made sense. Working in Italy
changed my life. I was submerged into the perfect life and now I
try to bring it to New York. I learned so much. For example, when
making pasta I learned what to leave out of the pasta dish. The
noodle is the king of the dish, don't put a bunch of ingredients
in... keep it simple.
SC: What is the secret of cooking pasta?
MB: Copious amounts of boiling water with salt. Six to eight
quarts of water for one pound of pasta. There has to be room in
the pot for the pasta to get agitated. Cook it as quickly as you
can. Everyone should be seated at the table when the pasta comes
out of the water.
SC: What do you think it is about Italian food that people
love so much?
MB: It's the most satisfying food you can eat. There are
lots of things in one dish... carbs, protein and great taste!
5 must-haves in Mario's pantry:
1. Extra virgin olive oil from single estates, such as Capezzana
2. Balsamic vinegar
3. Goat cheese (Coach Farm, of course)
5. Tabasco sauce
Kitchen tools that Mario can't live without:
- A good wooden cutting board
- Excellent knives (Sabatier Chefs Knives). My favorite knife
is the one that my grandfather had - a Hop knife. It's real carbon
steel and holds an edge for a year and a half.
- Hand-held colander: I use it for draining spaghetti and veggies
plus lots of other things.
- Food processor or blender: great for sauces, pie crusts, granita,
At the restaurant
- A grill is a great piece of equipment
- Good aluminum sauté pans, they heat up fast and I can
beat the hell out of them.
- A heavy metal meat mallet for carpaccio and scallopine