Even with restaurants around the country, an armful of books, more product endorsements than Michael Jordan, and plenty of goofy TV footage, Mario Batali is the rare celebrity chef who remains a chef's chef. His food is admired by many professionals and his restaurants receive consistently good reviews.
Best of all:
In photos throughout his books and on TV, Batali can be seen in shorts and orange clogs. He says he rarely wears pants. "I've made a career out of wearing shorts. Sweatpants are too post-'Sopranos.' Guys out on Long Island are doing it though."
This is in a major metropolitan daily, mind you. Is writing about food over, or is this the kind of thing you can expect on this end of the Fung Wah? I mean:
He hangs out with all sorts of luminaries from outside the food world, including poet/novelist/gourmand Jim Harrison, for whom he recently hosted a surprise 70th birthday at the writer's home in Patagonia, Ariz. Also in his circle of friends is Michael Stipe of R.E.M. (Batali loves the band's new recording). He had the musician over for dinner recently. "I made spaghetti with ramps that we dug at my wife's parents' farm, garlic, red pepper flakes, and pecorino cheese. We also had a romaine lettuce salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and gorgonzola."
Seriously? Is Personality Parade the new journalistic paradigm?