What does a red-haired ponytail, television super chef and Spanish Theater of the Golden Age all have in common. Absolutely nothing – but when it comes to creating super delicious, creative meals, in the life of world renowned chef, Mario Batali it reminds him of his college years at Rutgers University.
While spending his undergraduate years in New Brunswick, Batali actually studied Finance and Spanish Theater of the Golden Age before graduating in 1982. “In college, when we were hanging around at the end of the evening after many potent beverages,“ he laughed as he told CNBC’s “Off The Cuff”, “we would get together and decide we were hungry after the restaurants had closed.“
“That was the beginning of my sneaky tricks,” he continued. ”That's when I started to figure out just what ‘al dente’ meant in pasta and how simple things could actually be remarkably delicious, provided I did not have to do the dishes.”
Batali now co-owns restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Singapore and Hong Kong, and he co-founded Eataly, the New York-based food marketplace. On top of hosting a number of cooking TV shows, selling a line of food products, authoring a cookbook and becoming an Iron Chef – one would think he was schooled from a top business school. But what you may not now about Mario Batali is that his real undergraduate business training came from working as a line cook at Stuff Yer Face, a legendary New Brunswick eatery.
According to Batali cooking at Stuff Yer Face showed the savvy chef that “you’ve got to get a brand.” Stuff Yer Face has its ’bolis, Batali has his “Molto.” Yet he laments that that secret ingredient too often keeps him out of the kitchen. “It is part of the gig,” Batali said in a 2008 interview by NJ Monthly. “I could train a chimp to cook veal chops, but I cannot train a chimp to love it. All the people cooking with me were selected because they also have a passion for the perfect dish.”
After graduation the job opportunities were slim to nil in Spanish Theater, (which Batali wasn’t surprised by the fact), he then went to study atLe Cordon Bleu. Unfortunately for Batali his time at the international culinary institution didn’t last.
“I dropped out of Cordon Bleu due to impatience and foolishness. I just thought it was moving too slowly because I thought I was a big shot chef. And in fact I was wrong. And I should've gone all the way through the program,” he said. “The only thing I regret about not finishing it is that the record shows that I didn't finish something that I started. When my children say, ‘Dad, but you didn't finish,’ I'm like ‘I almost finished!’ he said in mock indignation. “Not a really good lesson.”