An expansive restaurant empire, a talk show, and a children's foundation aren't enough to keep Mario Batali busy; the chef also released his ninth cookbook, Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home to Yours, in the past week. Yet surprisingly, when we caught up with him, what we discovered was an underlying theme to his life philosophy: that of simplicity. Whether it's the return of the family meal, his healthy eating philosophy, or his plans for the holidays, everything in this chef's life seems to reflect his inclination toward a pared-down, rustic lifestyle.
We checked in with America's foremost Italian chef for an update on Eataly, his growing food emporium; the hottest ingredient in Italian cooking right now; and, his thoughts on the always-controversial Anthony Bourdain.
YumSugar: Family meal cookbooks seem to be a big thing right now. Why do you think that is, and what's the point of view of your cookbook?
Mario Batali: The family meal has always been an important part of the American psyche; it's just been on hiatus for a few decades. It all comes back to my belief that it's all about family, children, and confidence through the guise of deliciousness. Entertaining at home for family and friends rounds out the equation.
YS: What are your plans for the holidays this year?
MB: We'll be at our house in northern Michigan for Christmas. I bake the ham in my wood-burning oven.
YS: Porchetta has certainly had its moment in the spotlight. What's going to be the next big Italian ingredient?
Find out his answer when you keep reading.