There are just some days and in my case the past couple weeks that inspiration is hard to come by for a food based story. Press releases come in; new food items, a wine dinner or a very worthy charity event and it all feels so old and tired. Where is my muse? Enter Mario Batali.
Back in December, 2011 Batali told Robin Leach known for his television series Life Styles of the Rich and Famous, that he was starting his own on-line TV Network Via Alta Productions. If you know your Italian you will know that via alta translates to high road, hence the name of the series, High Road with Mario Batali. The Batali series launched the first of its 10 to 15 minute episodes June 12, 2014 on Hulu featuring numerous celebrity friends from all walks of life. The first episode was George Stephanopoulos and earlier this morning, like every Thursday morning, a new episode became available, this one the Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon (episode seven).
Batali is the host/interviewer who takes Chef Gabrielle Hamilton, Liv Tyler and Tony Bourdain to iconic or not so iconic New York City locales from the Intrepid, the High Line and Grand Central Station. Who knew there was a tennis court at Grand Central Station? Whether slurping oysters at the whispering corners in Grand Central to Caprese Salad at the roof top Gotham Greens there is a food bite or two to be seen in each episode but that isn’t what it is all about.
Batali takes his guest top side on a New York City tour bus for a question and answer segments. Bourdain explains in his episode that the slice of normalcy in life is what he relishes which with his not so normal restaurant background rarely afforded him or Liv Tyler’s reflecting that New Yorkers have a strong sense of self. Jimmy Fallon and Isabelle Rossellini must have missed that bus but the Q and A’s were in the studio or in a Hyundai (sponsor).
Shot in black and white, it felt a bit like Woody Allen’s movie Manhattan minus the Gershwin score. New York is a black and white city during the day so the cinematic choice was a good, that monotone grey, black and white of the skyscrapers, pavements and asphalt.
Games play an integral part from shuffleboard, bocce ball to miniature golf – each episode has a challenge a foot. Batali actually takes off his signature orange Crocs and puts on bowling shoes in a challenge with Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson at the Henry Clay Frick mansion. It doesn’t have to be a physical sport, napkin Pictionary was integral in the Liv Tyler interview as they visited Manhattan diners.
Binge watching the High Road with Mario Batali was a whole quicker than binge watching all the episodes of Game of Thrones and less violent. It was nice to feel inspired to write again and getting back to why I started writing about food in the beginning. Head over to Hulu.com and view the free episodes of High Road with Mario Batali.
A footnote of sorts: High Road with Mario Batali is not the only on-line television venture for Mario. Announced in June, Batali and Ogilvy Entertainment formed ccMF Production gearing life style and food programming to Millennials, shows with underlying messages about what we eat and how we live.
www.hulu.com/the-high-road-with-mario-batali @mariobatali #thehighroad