Before his Rock & Wine event and Swing Session Celebrity Golf Classic this weekend, we found out where Mario Batali wines, dines and throws parties.
You are one of the busiest chefs/businessmen out there. Though you have always given your time to philanthropic activities, what made you finally decide to start your own foundation?
There was a moment a few years ago when I was being interviewed by the New York Times on philanthropy and I realized that I was giving a lot of money every year to many foundations, which is of course a wonderful thing, but I thought that if I can focus on what I care about most in this world (children's literacy, hunger relief and children's disease research) then I can REALLY make a difference.
Most people assume that feeding children in need is the main goal of the MBF, but you have made a commitment to children's literacy as well--can you tell us about this?
To quote Mark Twain, "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." My intention with literacy is to not only help eradicate it, but also to remind and excited young readers about the joy of reading.
What is the most fun part of your Rock & Wine party?
Having a lot of my friends together for a rocking night of food, music and fun seems like a good start.
You're also throwing a celebrity golf event, the Swing Session Celebrity Golf Classic--are you a killer golfer yourself?
I love the game but am only a 14 handicap. Swing Session is as much about the food and fun as it is about the golf. It will certainly be the most delicious golf event ever with food from Torrisi, Andy Nusser, Mark Ladner, Cesare Casella and Michael White. I cannot imagine a more delicious way to spend the day.
Tell us a little bit about your new cookbook "Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home to Yours." What was the impetus for this new book?
This book is about the importance and deliciousness of full-on family meals, the kind where people can participate in the preparation, set-up and enjoyment of the most valuable and often overlooked time of the day or week, a sit-down dinner with the entire family. The new cookbook will be on sale October 25, 2011.
Can you tell us one surprising passion that people might not guess about you?
I am a big fan of the music of the cello. I have a nice collection of work by Ma, Casals, Gutman and Lotjonen.
Where do you personally like to go when you get a late-night craving? And what do you eat?
Kang Suh is one of my total favorites, as is the cheeseburger at The Spotted Pig and grilled chicken at Kyo Ya.
What are your favorite late-night pairings?
Cold Friulano and oysters
Where are your favorite nightlife places to hang out at in New York City?
Pig, Del Posto, Red Farm, Tertulia, Da Silvano
What is your favorite thing to eat between two buns?
Pork belly from David Chang or a hot dog from Grey's Papaya
For more information or ticket inquiries for Rock & Wine on September 25 or the Swing Session Celebrity Golf Classic on September 26, please contact Susan Marzano at 776-679-1633.