Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The old adage "Never trust a skinny cook" is about to change
Mario Batali pushes back from the table
Chef loses 35 pounds, and is promoting new cookbook that features lots of veggie dishes.
By Tan Vinh
The Seattle Times
Posted: Tuesday, May. 11, 2010
You might have to sit down for this.
Chef Mario Batali, known for downing a case of wine and putting away 20 to 30 dishes in a single meal without needing much help from dining companions, now eats less than you do on some nights.
The celebrity chef whose motto was "wretched excess is just barely enough," said he was horrified at how fat he looked on television and started eating better.
Batali is promoting his latest cookbook, "Molto Gusto," with pizza, pasta, antipasti, salads and gelato recipes. It also features lots of vegetable dishes, indicative of how the new Mario eats.
He is finalizing deals on two new cooking shows, one with him cooking in Sicily and the other in Brooklyn. And he is about to open Eataly in New York City, a 50,000- plus square-foot food emporium.
We caught up with him on a recent stop in Seattle.
Q: So you've lost some weight.
Thirty-five to 40 pounds. I weigh about 235 (now). I was big.
Q: What's a typical Mario eating day?
I eat half of whatever they put in front of me in restaurants. I eat a lot more vegetables. I exercise a lot more. I try not to eat after 9:30.
Q: Your appetite was legendary. Are those gluttony days over?
Eating as a pleasure is still a part of my life. Eating as a sport has faded away.
Q: This cookbook is different from your seven other cookbooks. Lots of vegetable dishes, lots of 30-minute-or-less recipes.
This is how Italians eat on a weekday when they want to eat something that is delicious, healthy and not so hard to make. And in fact, there is no fresh pasta recipe in the book. It is all dried pasta.
Q: What is the next big thing? The next pork belly?
The next big thing will be vegetables.
Q: Because of the eat-local mantra?
Exactly. I think the next big thing in people's mind is actually eating with a point of view, eating with an ideology. It is all the things that we should be thinking about but we never had to because we are in the richest country in the world of all time. Now thinking maybe about spending a bit more for an heirloom varietal. Or a specific type of grown thing that is completely fertilizer-free. Or eating your meat that has no hormones or antibiotics.
Q. So I hear you pull $100,000 to appear at food festivals and events.
When a casino calls or a big-shot hotel calls, they offer the money and you say yes or no. ... I think it's fabulous. I don't understand it. But I don't care. (He laughs.)