Chef Mario Batali is on the hunt for a new assistant! Not just any assistant, but a media production coordinator to be exact, and he's letting Monster conduct a vast and extensive search for the perfect candidate. Prospective coordinators can apply for the job from now until June 13; Batali hopes to have the person up and running with his team around July 25.
This morning I spoke with the eloquent chef over the phone to find out more about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We chatted about the rise of celebrities that cook, his upcoming projects, and the location of his next Italian emporium, Eataly. To find out what he had to say, keep reading.
YumSugar: So, tell me more about this job search. What exactly will the media production coordinator do?
Mario Batali: Well, the job is still being decided. The person will be helping me in every way in my attempt to develop new programming. They'll help do The Chew, create programs with the head chefs and partners of my restaurants.
YS: What made you decide to do a public job search like this?
MB: Because I want to find someone that is really good. I don’t know where this person lives or exists. I have no idea of the man power to sift through thousands of resumes. If the job was related to cooking, I could find someone through my restaurants or culinary school, but this isn't the restaurant world, so I'm letting Monster find this new interesting person that's perfect for the job. The candidate should live in New York, I'm not moving anyone, and must show up to the office everyday. They should be interested in technology and aware of and participatory in social media. They must be able to edit, upload, and send videos.
YS: Last week, you told GrubStreet that you’ll be creating short videos that will “take over the world of food production TV in a new and exciting way.” Can you elaborate?
MB: I don’t mean to take over the world, I mean to take the world by storm. I want to do stuff that highlights the talent of my chefs. Like the video Anthony Sasso made for Grubstreet or Eater. It was a rock video of a recipe of a braised pork belly and uni dish — things like that, we'll produce. We'll create interesting ways to learn about cooking, we want to share cooking, share the buzz of the gastronomic world.
YS: You were one of America's first chefs to really develop a celebrity following. Now a number of Hollywood celebrities, like Gwyneth Paltrow, have come onto the culinary scene. Do you see her and her company as the next wave of celebrity chefs?
MB: I think as the role of the celebrity chef is less about professional cooking and more about getting people in the kitchen, making cooking less daunting, then yes, celebrities will show people how they cook. Do I see Jerry Seinfeld as the next celebrity chef? No, but his wife is a pretty good cook and she could teach people what she does. As more and more people take pleasure in the table, more celebrities will address the subject.
YS: Do you think Gwyneth is the new Martha?
MB: No one will ever replace Martha. Gwyneth is in a different place than Martha. Martha teaches people how to build a trellis, while Gwyneth teaches people how she cooks. Her lifestyle is a model for people and cooking is a part of that model. But Gwyneth is never going to teach people how to make a saddle out of leather.
YS: What types of food issues will you address on your new show The Chew?
MB: Anything relevant to the food world that comes up. When we were doing some test shoots we discussed food radiation because that is something we don't really understand. We talked about it on a bunch of different levels. The pleasure and fun of the table. Food as pop culture. It will be interesting to see whose opinions emerge. It debuts in late September.
YS: What upcoming project are you most excited for?
MB: I'm excited about The Chew, for filling the job opening. I've currently got three restaurants in the works: two in Southern California and one in Westport, CT. I'm excited about those.
YS: Will you be opening Eataly in any other locations?
MB: I'm looking at three possible places for the next Eataly: Los Angeles, Toronto, and Mexico City. I really want Eataly to be a place that you can walk to and enjoy which is why I love Mexico City. In LA, you can't do that.
YS: What's the most important cooking tip you've ever learned?
MB: One that I learned a long time ago in Italy: not to put too much on the plate. Having the confidence to let the ingredient be itself on the plate. If you're sourcing deliciousness, the peas should be fine on their own with nothing more than a little butter or oil.
YS: What's your favorite Italian dish that nobody's ever heard of?
MB: Le Virtu. It's a wedding celebration soup that takes three days to eat. It's layers of meatballs, vegetables, and beans. It's all brought out in courses.
YS: What's your advice to the everyday home cook?
MB: Spend more time in the grocery store and less time in the kitchen. Clean out your kitchen and get rid of those old spices that you once used to make chicken tikka masala. Make room for fresh clean food.