Mario Batali and Sons Tell Family Cooking Secrets
Not many teenagers can say they have a world-famous chef at home to prepare meals, but Benno and Leo Batali are just that lucky. When their father, Mario Batali, turned 50, the boys decided to make him a special gift: a cookbook inspired by the food that Mario had taught them how to make. The Batali Brothers Cookbook is a great starter course for families learning to cook together. We asked all three Batalis about the top three things that they've learned about cooking from the other and where they love to eat in New York.
Bookish: Mario Batali, what have you learned about cooking and eating from your kids?
Mario Batali: One: It's OK to get messy sometimes. In culinary school and in restaurants, the rule is that your station should always be immaculate. But at home with the kids, you can be more lax. It's about time together, not being militant.
Two: Shortcuts are just fine. I'm usually not a fan of store-bought whipped cream, but sometimes it's just fine. Same with tomato sauce (of course, only if it's mine).
Three: When making tiramisu for your kids, do yourself a favor and use decaf!
Bookish: Benno and Leo, what have you learned about cooking from your dad?
Benno and Leo Batali: Have fun in the kitchen. We always have music playing in ours, and it's a great time no matter what!
Two: When it comes to olive oil, sea salt, truffles, and, in our house especially, chili flakes, you can always add more. Sometimes you don't have to follow a recipe exactly. If you like things spicier, it's OK to add more than the recipe calls for.
Three: Taste along the way. Make sure you like the way things taste as you go along.
Bookish: What's your favorite New York neighborhood to eat in, and what dish can you find there that's better than anywhere else?
All three Batalis: Otto pizza in [Greenwich] Village!
This piece was updated on September 22, 2014.