Can anyone really ever get tired of Mario Batali? If so, then they are not my kind of person. The other night, I got to hear him speak at the Jewish Community Center in a far more intimate setting than I ever have before. He and food columnist, Amanda Hesser, did a Q&A type session that was really terrific.
Amanda's journey is pretty cool and one that I relate to in terms of truly just being fascinated by what goes on in a kitchen. She's had some very cool experiences and hearing her speak was really neat. The discussion flowed nicely between her and Batali and I learned a great deal more about what kinda fuels Batali as a chef. He's so witty and articulate which really appealed to me. He's the kind of guy with vision and talent that's just inherent. That's the kind of chef I hope to be one day.
I get a lot of inspiration from Batali in terms of his "less is more" approach. Both he and Cesare Casella are chefs I look up to in this regard because they have a love of raw, natural ingredients in their pure form that I respect totally. Some of the greatest dishes I've had in Batali's restaurants are as bare bones as you can get in terms of ingredients but have flavors that knock your socks off. Case in point, using fantastic olive oil DOES make a difference. ;) I particularly liked one of the things he said about having confidence in making solid decisions without getting every opinion under the sun. He said making a really good idea a collective decision never works and I completely agree with that. Of course you need solid people to bounce things off of at times but, in the end, when you're passionate about building something important to you, somewhere along the line you just need faith and confidence in who you are and what you're doing. I really did enjoy getting to hear more about his journey as a chef, though. Quite an informative and enjoyable evening: