& Fortune: TV chef Mario BataliBusiness grad swapped
portfolio theory for pasta
Bankrate: Did they
seek you out?
Batali: Yeah, I met some
kid at a party with a bow tie on and he said, "How would you like
to be on TV?" and I'm like yeah, right, get out of my face. And
he said, "No, really. Let's have lunch." I met with him and Reese
Schoenfeld, who was the original president and developer of The
Food Network, and six weeks later I was on the air.
Bankrate: What was that like?
Ayiii! If you look back at the old shows, I'm not as seasoned as I am now. I looked
pretty goofy, but I was passionate about it and I stuck with it.
Between TV, writing books and running your restaurants, where do you find the
Batali: I book myself pretty
aggressively, but if you get up every morning and set yourself out a day where
you compartmentalize a couple of the things, you can get a lot done. I'm a good
Bankrate: Do you still
find time to work the hot line?
Yeah, I was there for the last five months as we opened Del Posto. This is the
first week that I'm not on the line.
What did winning the prestigious James Beard award mean to you?
It's nice, you know. That's the one award that's really chosen by your peers and
the journalists who appreciate you and judge you. I was very proud. As I said
in my acceptance speech, I'm really the spokesperson at this point for a team
of great players, so I accept it on their behalf.
Bankrate: Teamwork is
essential for success in your business.
Exactly. There's a lot of stress everyday in the restaurant business and a lot
of little quirky things can happen that can divide the team or fragment the team
or cause the team to think less of each other, and you've got to get in there
and keep them happy. When I'm in the restaurant, everyone is always happy because
I've always got a light way of looking at things and a good way of keeping people
smiling, happy and doing what they like to do.