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2Profile: Mario BataliThe iron chef talks Italian cuisine.

Photograph of chef Mario Batali.

Mario Batali isn’t your typical superstar chef. For starters, drop­ping out of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and training in a teeny village in Italy isn’t the most lucrative way to begin. Then there’s the trademark orange clogs and shorts that not many could get away with. But, as the popularity of his TV shows (like Ciao America and Iron Chef America: The Series) and acclaim for his New York restaurants (like Babbo) demonstrate, Batali is not merely innovative for innovation’s sake; he manages to balance innovation with tradition.

When it comes to Italian cooking, Batali, who is opening his first truly classic Italian restaurant, Del Posto, in New York in November, explains that while the food itself is a major part of it, “it’s always the experience as well. The ex­tension of hospitality is what really good cook­ing is trying to be.” And in his latest book, Molto Italiano, he focuses on recipes you can make at home.

Batali feels that these days, people are searching for some sort of tradition, and when cooking for two, the best way to develop it is to do a regular cooking project. “Spend a Sunday, make all those gnocchi, eat a couple portions of them, and freeze the rest. Then you have a big, beautiful Sunday thing that you guys do together traditionally.”