With apologies to Variety, formerly famous for its alliterative article titles, cooking for a living has evolved from a trade into a theater of the absurd. Chefs nowadays are known often as not for their antics outside the kitchen as for the items they create inside.
Take ever-in-the-spotlight Mario Batali. The portly restaurant-and-food empire overseer is back in the headlines again, this time for comments he made about bankers. While sitting on the panel to select the TIME person of the year, Batali shared this view:
I would have to say that who has had the largest effect on the whole planet without us really paying attention across the board and everywhere is the entire banking industry and their disregard for the people that they’re supposed to be working for…. So the ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys …They’re not heroes, but they are people that had a really huge effect on the way the world is operating.
As Confucius might have said, “Man who runs world’s most expensive restaurant should not tee off on those with lavish expense accounts and/or deep pockets.” Following Batali’s ill-chosen comments, a number of irate bankers fired off messages on Twitter under the hashtag “#bataligate,” urging their fellow financiers to spend their dining dollars at other high-end restaurants. Among the tweets were the following:
Have spent at least 30 nights [at Babbo], I will never again step foot or recommend to a single person.
Morgan Stanley Trader messages me on Batali: ‘Good luck with your $300 white truffle tasting menu among the 99%.’
It’s like the CEO of calling lower/middle class shoppers white trash-don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Batali’s behavior was so misguided as to merit a tweet from the ever-prurient Anthony Bourdain, who in typically self-debasing fashion wrote:
@Mariobatali you some kinda communist, [sic] there, fella? Jeez! I only flashed my nuts! Welcome to my world, bad boy!
Talk about your seasons in hell!
At least Batali’s unplanned sojourn to the netherworld was brief. Grub Street reports that the day after his comments created the backlash among bankers, the only Batali-owned restaurant where a table for two was available at 8 p.m. was Esca.
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