You may know Mario Batali as the preeminent Italian cuisine expert, host of several cooking shows, and co-creator of B&B Hospitality Group, which is responsible for N.Y.C.-based restaurant Babbo and artisanal marketplace Eataly, among other world-renowned eateries. Or maybe you just know Batali as the animated chef with the bright red ponytail and orange Crocs. During a recent chat with him during the Jets + Chefs event at this year's New York City Wine & Food Festival—which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the Food Bank For New York City and the No Kid Hungry campaign to end hunger in America—he answered some of our most burning culinary questions, even letting us in on the secret to the perfect bourbon cocktail. Read on below.
Last meal on earth: What would it be?
It would be a long meal celebrating, coast to coast, every town on every single port all over the world, on a boat… each night transforming itself into the next course so that it lasted until the sun never went down.
Favorite kitchen gadget?
It’s truffle season, so I’d have to say the microplane because I love a quiet rain of truffles all over my pasta.
White truffles, porcini mushrooms, and cardoons—my grandfather’s favorite vegetable. It’s a cross between celery, fennel, and an artichoke. Cynara cardunculus [the cardoon’s binomial name] is a member of the thistle family.
What will you be sipping this fall?
I have become a major bourbon fan, so I’m enjoying Pappy Van Winkle (starting at $500; saratogawine.com). I’m serving it in an odd way by making an Old Fashioned, which Julian [Van Winkle, president of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery] taught me. You squeeze a little orange, put some bitters in it, a brown sugar cube, ice, and then a couple of shots of bourbon. It’s a great sipping cocktail before going out to dinner.