& Fortune: TV chef Mario BataliBusiness grad swapped
portfolio theory for pasta
What is it like to compete on "Iron Chef?"
Batali: It's real! (laughs)
You really do not want to lose, you really don't know the secret
ingredient and you really could lose at any given minute. But it's
fun. I love it. The audience demographic is much different than
my traditional cooking show. At this point now, I see a lot of 14-
to 20-year-old kids who come up to me and give me kind of a half-bow
at the waist and say, "Iron Chef Batali." It's pretty funny.
Bankrate: Do the other chefs
Batali: Oh, every
one of those guys is as good a cook if not better than me. I'm a fan of most of
the people I compete with. When I'm working, I'm not really thinking about what
they're doing at all. I'm just focusing on trying to get the food done. I have
no idea what's happening on the other side.
How have you managed your money?
Most of the money I make we reinvest into our restaurants. I started with Po in
1993 which we opened for $45,000 and the last one we opened was Del Posto, which
cost $10 million. So you buy and you reinvest and you take the profits and you
invest them. I don't have a huge portfolio of holdings other than the investments
in the restaurants I've made and property I've bought along the way. We bought
150 acres in Tuscany, a vacation house in Michigan, and we try to own as much
of our restaurant real estate as we can get our hands on. We haven't yet harvested
anything. We're still planting.
Will you continue with your Food Network shows?
Batali: I'm not sure.
Right now, I'm just doing "Iron Chef." I'm not sure if The Food
Network and I are necessarily eye-to-eye on what I can do. They
have become far more interested in the entertainment value of their
programming, and that's not something that intrigues me. I like
the study and understanding of basic cooking, and tradition and
family and the reasons that people do get together to eat.
Where would you like to be 20 years from now? Sitting in a villa in Tuscany sipping
wine from your own vineyard?
Batali: I hope so. I like
the idea of having four houses for four seasons, and you travel
to each one and bring all your friends and family and have a really
nice time. Enjoy the summer in Michigan, the autumn in Tuscany and