Raised in Seattle, Mario attended high school in Madrid and studied the golden age of Spanish theater at Rutgers University. Soon after graduating, Mario enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in London, his first formal culinary training. But after a few short months, he withdrew to apprentice with London’s legendary chef Marco Pierre White. During three years of intense culinary training in the Northern Italian village of Borgo Capanne (population 200), Mario learned the essential skills to return to his native US eager to plant his orange-clad foot firmly on the checkered-tablecloth Italian restaurant establishment.
After having gained momentum on the New York restaurant scene at beloved neighborhood joints including Rocco’s and Po, Mario teamed up with Joe Bastianich to open Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca on Waverly Place in 1998. There he realized his cooking philosophy: use the best local ingredients as simply as possible and serve them with flourish and joy. As a Tuscan cooks in Chianti, as a Neapolitan cooks on the Amalfi coast, as a Sicilian cooks in Pantelleria, at Babbo Mario cooked as an Italian might in the Hudson Valley region.
Today, Mario is one of the most recognized and respected chefs worldwide. He and Joe have created a successful restaurant and culinary empire that spans New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Among his many accolades, Mario was named “Man of the Year” in the chef category by GQ Magazine in 1999. In 2002, he won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: New York City” award, and in 2005 the James Beard Foundation awarded Mario the designation “Outstanding Chef of the Year.” Mario was also a recipient of the 2001 D’Artagnan Cervena “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America,” a prestigious food industry lifetime achievement award.
Mario is also the author of ten cookbooks including the James Beard Award Winning, Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes (ecco 2005); New York Times Bestseller Mario Batali Italian Grill (ecco 2007); and Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals form My Home to Yours (ecco 2011). Mario’s most recent cookbook is AMERICA Farm to Table (Grand Central Life & Style).
In 2008, Mario founded the Mario Batali Foundation with the mission of feeding, protecting, educating and empowering children.