Chef. Restaurateur. Award-winning author. Television personality. Mario Batali is one of the most recognized and respected chefs working in America today. But what celebrity might fail to convey is that he’s also one of the hardest working professionals in the business, which is no doubt how he and business partner Joe Bastianich created a culinary empire that spans from New York and Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Singapore.
Raised in Seattle, Batali started his education as far from food as possible: studying the golden age of Spanish theater at Rutgers University. And while he took his first bite of culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in London, Batali withdrew almost immediately, citing a “lack of interest.” The truth is Batali was interested—in getting his hands dirty in the kitchen. An apprenticeship with London's legendary Chef Marco Pierre White, along with three years of intense culinary training in the diminutive Northern Italian village of Borgo Capanne, not only gave Batali essential skills and knowledge, but it also taught him early, and deeply, about the relationship between hard work and ambition.
Batali returned to the United States, a trained and inspired chef, eager to plant his orange-clogged feet firmly in the realm of Italian cuisine. His career blossomed in New York City, first with critically acclaimed Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, followed by a constellation of equally distinctive restaurants, including Lupa Osteria Romana, Esca, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, Casa Mono, Bar Jamon, the first-ever four star Italian Del Posto, and, most recently, Eataly. Next came the West Coast, followed by international expansion. (With his James Beard awards, scores of cookbooks, and television shows, worldwide fame was an inevitability.) Capping off two decades of success—and hard work—Batali founded the Mario Batali Foundation in 2008, to feed, protect, educate, and empower children.