Mario Francesco Batali (born September 19, 1960) is an American chef, writer and restaurateur. Batali co-owned restaurants in New York City; Las Vegas; Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California; Boston; Singapore; Westport, Connecticut; and New Haven, Connecticut. Batali has appeared on the Food Network, on shows such as Molto Mario and Iron Chef America, on which he was one of the featured "Iron Chefs". In 2017, the restaurant review site Eater revealed multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against Batali and, in March 2019, he sold all his restaurant holdings.
Batali was born in Seattle, Washington on September 19, 1960 to Marilyn (LaFramboise) and Armandino Batali, who founded Seattle's Salumi restaurant in 2006. His father is of Italian descent and his mother is of part French-Canadian ancestry. Batali attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey while working as a cook at the pub/restaurant Stuff Yer Face.
In 1994, he married Susi Cahn and together they have two sons. Batali is son-in-law to Miles and Lillian Cahn, founders of Coach Inc. Mario Batali's brother Dana Batali was Director of Pixar RenderMan development from 2001 to 2015.
At 29, Batali was a sous chef at the Four Seasons Biltmore after previously working as a sous chef for the then Four Seasons Clift Hotel San Francisco (since 1995, known as "The Clift", under changed ownership). Early in his career, Batali worked with chef Jeremiah Tower at his San Francisco restaurant, Stars. Stars was open from 1984 until 1999 and is considered one of the birthplaces of the institution of the celebrity chef. Batali appeared in the Food Network show Molto Mario which aired from 1996 to 2004. The show made Batali a household name and popularized the Food Network.
In 1998, Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich formed the B&B Hospitality Group, also known as Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. The flagship restaurant for B&B is Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in New York City which has a Michelin star.
Batali was a co-host of the ABC daytime talk show The Chew from its premiere in 2011 until 2017.
In 2012, a lawsuit was settled by Batali (and B&B) with 117 members of the restaurant staff, who alleged that the Batali organization had skimmed a percentage of the tip pools in his restaurants over a period of years.
Philanthropy and social activism
Batali is a critic of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, a method of natural gas extraction. He has signed onto the cause of Chefs for the Marcellus, whose mission is to "protect [New York's] regional foodshed from the dangers of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas (fracking)." In May 2013, Batali co-wrote an opinion article with chef Bill Telepan for the New York Daily News, in which the two wrote that "Fracking ... could do serious damage to [New York's] agricultural industry and hurt businesses, like ours, that rely on safe, healthy, locally sourced foods." Batali was the subject of a 2007 book titled "Heat" by Bill Buford which detailed his philosophy to various aspects of social activism, as well as cooking and life.
Batali served as an ambassador and on the board of directors for The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization which provides a daily meal to students of township schools in Soweto, South Africa. In December 2017, Batali stepped down from his role with the organization in response to sexual misconduct allegations against him.
In 2008, Batali and his wife Susi Cahn founded the Mario Batali Foundation, funding various children's educational programs and pediatric disease research.
He supports the practice of Transcendental Meditation through the David Lynch Foundation.
In a 2012 interview, Batali said that good Italian cooking was characterized by simplicity, an insight he attributed to his time working at a restaurant in Borgo Capanne, Italy.
Sexual misconduct allegations
On December 11, 2017, restaurant news website Eater reported that four women accused Batali of sexual harassment and sexual assault. By the following day, four more women had come forward. Batali took a leave of absence from his position at the management company Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. Producers of ABC's The Chew asked him to step aside temporarily, while his fellow co-hosts publicly addressed the allegations on air, and he was fired from the show on December 14, 2017.
Food Network halted plans to release episodes of his television show Molto Mario after the allegations. Target announced it pulled Batali's pasta sauces and cookbooks out of sales.
In May 2018, more accusations of sexual assault against Batali were aired on an episode of 60 Minutes, and the New York Police Department confirmed it was investigating Batali for his past behavior, including an alleged assault that took place at The Spotted Pig, a restaurant where Batali was an investor. Batali denied an allegation of sexual assault, but said "My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions." Days later, Batali's company B&B Hospitality Group announced it would be closing its three Las Vegas Strip restaurants after the Las Vegas Sands Corp. terminated the companies' relationship.
In January 2019 New York City police declined to charge Batali over two alleged sexual assaults in his New York City restaurants due to insufficient evidence.
In March 2019, Batali surrendered ownership of his stakes in Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, a partnership between Batali and the Bastianich family, including Joe and Lidia Bastianich. He also sold his minority ownership in Eataly, an Italian food marketplace. The Bastianiches said B&B Hospitality Group's name will change. Batali was the first chef to surrender ownerships in all his restaurants after reports of sexual misconducts.
In May 2019, Batali was charged with indecent assault and battery, and was scheduled to be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on Friday, May 24, 2019. In court, the accuser described an event that allegedly took place in March 2017 in which Batali "grabbed her breasts, buttocks and groin, forcibly kissed her mouth and cheeks, and suggested they head to his nearby hotel". Batali pled not guilty to these charges and has opted for a bench trial.
In July 2021 and with the separate Boston case still yet to reach court, Batali, Bastianich and their former restaurant company agreed to a settlement in the New York state case that was under investigation by the Attorney General of New York wherein they would pay $600,000 to more than 20 former employees of their restaurants.
In May 2022, Batali's trial in Boston commenced, with Batali waiving his right to a jury trial and opting to have a judge decide.
Television and movie credits
|Show name||Year||Network||Role||Notes & citation|
|Molto Mario||1996–2004||Food Network||Host||A culinary tour of Italy, hosted by Batali|
|Mediterranean Mario||1998||A culinary tour of Morocco, Spain, France, Greece, hosted by Batali|
|Mario Eats Italy||2001–2002||A culinary tour of the Italian countryside|
|Ciao America with Chef Mario Batali||2003||A culinary tour of the Italian in America; only three episodes|
|Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters|
|Iron Chef America: The Series||Judge or participant|
|ICA: All-Star Special|
|Mario, FULL BOIL||2007||Food Network||A one-hour documentary special, following Batali and Bastianich opening an Italian restaurant in New York City (Del Posto)|
|Emeril Live||2006||Guest appearance||"Italian Favorites with Mario Batali"|
|Chefography||2006, 2007||Guest appearances||Season 0, episode 7 and season 2, episode 6|
|Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations||2005||Travel Channel||Guest appearance||Season 1, episode 3: "New Jersey"|
|Spain... on the Road Again||2008||PBS||Co-host|
|Fantastic Mr. Fox||2009||20th Century Fox||"Mr. Rabbit"||Stop-motion animated film directed by Wes Anderson, based on the book by Roald Dahl|
|The Daily Show||2010, 2011, 2012||Comedy Central||Guest appearances|
|Faces of America||2010||PBS||Guest appearance|
|Bitter Feast||Dark Sky Films||"Gordon"||American psychological horror film directed and written by Joe Maggio, Mario Batali as Gordon|
|Saturday Night Live||Cameo|
|Good Morning America||Guest appearances|
|Fuck, That’s Delicious||2016||Viceland||Guest star||Season 2, episode 6: "The Caesar Brothers"|
|Worth It||2017||BuzzFeed||Guest appearance||Season 2, episode 5: "$2 Pizza vs. $2,000 Pizza, New York City"|
|The Simpsons||Treehouse of Horror XXVIII|
|The Untitled Action Bronson Show||Season 1, Episode 19, Mario Batali, Joanna Jedrzejczyk||Talk show guest|
- 1998 – "Best New Restaurant of 1998" from the James Beard Foundation for "Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca"
- 1999 – "Man of the Year" in GQ's chef category
- 2001 – D'Artagnan Cervena Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America
- 2002 – "Best Chef: New York City" from the James Beard Foundation
- 2004 – Three Stars from The New York Times for "Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca" from Ruth Reichl.
- 2005 – "All-Clad Cookware Outstanding Chef Award" from the James Beard Foundation (national award)
- 2008 – One Michelin star, Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, Michelin Guide
- 2008 – "Best Restaurateur" for Joe Bastianich/Mario Batali for Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca from the James Beard Foundation.
- Culinary Hall of Fame Induction.
- Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages (1998), ISBN 0-609-60300-0
- Mario Batali Holiday Food: Family Recipes for the Most Festive Time of the Year (2000), ISBN 0-609-60774-X
- Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy (contributor) (2002), ISBN 0-609-60848-7
- The Babbo Cookbook (2002), ISBN 0-609-60775-8
- The Artist's Palate (foreword) (2003), ISBN 0-7894-7768-8
- Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home (2005), ISBN 0-06-073492-2
- Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style (2006), ISBN 0-89204-846-8
- Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (2008), written with Gwyneth Paltrow, and Julia Turshen. ISBN 978-0-06-156093-4
- Italian Grill (2008), written with Judith Sutton. ISBN 978-0-06-145097-6
- Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking (2010), written with Mark Ladner. ISBN 978-0-06-192432-3
- Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours (2011), ISBN 978-0-06-209556-5
- America – Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers written with Jim Webster
- Mediterranean Summer, A Season on France's Côte d/Azur and Italy's Costa Bella (2007), written by David Shalleck and Erol Munuz ISBN 978-0-7679-2048-3 Contributor Foreword by Mario Batali
Batali is also a main subject of Bill Buford's book Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany (2007) ISBN 978-1400034475