FREAK-Quently Asked Questions: Mario Batali

INSERT DESCRIPTIONMario Batali (Photo: Melanie Dunea)

Mario Batali is one of the best-known chefs/entrepreneurs in the world. During college, at Rutgers, he double majored: Spanish theater (who knew?) and economics. He was good enough to submit to our FREAK-Quently Asked Questions (past entries here).

An FAQ with Mario Batali:

Q: On my deathbed, I will wish that I had spent more time _________.

A: Learning and playing the banjo.

Q: On my deathbed, I will wish I had spent more money on __________.

A: I feel I will have spent my money well.

Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far? What was your best accomplishment by the time you turned 16?

A: My relationships with my wife and children.

Having read and learned to love Faulkner‘s The Sound and the Fury.

Q: What’s one goal you’d still like to accomplish?

A: Spend every moment with my wife and children.

Q: What is your net worth as a ratio of your parents’ net worth at the time you were 16 (adjusted for inflation if possible)?

A: 350

Q: What is the best investment you made in getting to where you are today?

A: Opening 15 restaurants with my business partner Joe Bastianich.

Q: What’s the best financial investment you’ve ever made?

A: Fattoria la Mozza winery in Tuscany.

Q: The worst?

A: Buying Stuff Yer Face pizzeria stock in 1982.

Q: What talent have you always wished you had more of?

A: Patience and musical ability.

Q: What’s the last book you read cover to cover?

A: Fahrenheit 451.

Q: What do you most often lie about?

A: My ability.

Q: Fill in the blanks: I ___________ too much or too often; to avoid this, I tend to ___________.

A: talk, try and listen more carefully

Q: What is your biggest regret in life?

A: It is early.

Q: If you could have any job in the world for one day, what would it be?

A: Jimmie Johnson‘s.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A: Flight.

Q: How much would you sell one of your kidneys for?

A: I would not.

Q: What’s the most expensive piece of clothing you’ve ever bought, and why did you buy it?

A: I am not such a fashion dude, so it would be a tuxedo with short pants I had made for the James Beard awards in 2000 for about $2,100.

Q: Would you rather win a Nobel Prize, an Olympic gold medal, or the Megabucks Lottery?

A: I would love to be smart enough to win the Nobel Prize and be able to ski fast enough for downhill gold, but then I would not be me, so give me the lottery.

Q: How much is too much to spend on a cup of coffee?

A: Five bucks.

Q: What do you collect, and why?

A: Cookbooks for their constant variation.

Q: What is one item you own that you should probably throw out but never will?

A: Old chef coats with logos on them.

Q: New York or California?


Q: What will eventually lead to humankind’s demise, and when will it happen?

A: Hubris. Not for a very long time.

Q: What’s the best possible future discovery or invention?

A: Something to guarantee every child’s health and ability to thrive.

Q: Happiness is ____________.

A: A healthy, thriving family.

Final comment: You can choose happiness.


Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A: Flight.

NO! The answer is always time travel.


I love molto. Do you think we can get him to submit to readers' questions?


NO! Surely the answer is always teleportation.


But Don, if I can time travel, I still get there before you.


"An FAQ with Mario Batali?" This article would be better with proper grammar. ZING!


Time travel is a super power?


"An FAQ..." is correct if you spell it: "An Eff-A-Cue."


OK. I guess that can go both ways. Good job, Mike.


No, no, no--the ability to reach into your pocket and pull out exactly the amount of money that you need for whatever it is that you are purchasing. Don't need no stinkin' lottery that way.

Lauren B.

"You can choose happiness."

I like that quote. I couldn't agree more. In our modern society, it's becoming easier and easier to find people who are, simply put, unhappy. But, no matter what happens in life, there is always a positive outlook on it . . . a silver lining, if you will.

However, when something bad does happen, it is so much easier to choose the emotions that come naturally to us: anger, depression, loneliness, etc. It takes effort to be happy in dark times.

But, putting forth the "happy" effort ultimately results in a longer, much lived life with little regrets.

And the best super power is obviously teleportation.


A famous celebrity chef who lives in New York doesn't get asked a single question about food? Or running a restaurant? Really? I guess you had to make room for all the questions about how much he'd hypothetically charge for his kidney to no one.

Mary-Beth, MTA

how has no one mentioned invisibility? Think of all of the things you could get away with, plus it's a superpower that you could keep secret. Flying and teleportation would be harder to keep under wraps.


I agree with Morley here. Its surprising there were no questions about food or catering or the restaurant business! I would've been really curious to know about the economics of high-dining restaurants, vs. quick diners/fast-foods, or about the costs of food wastage, or about why its alleged that waiters do not get paid well, and they need to rely on tips to meet their ends, etc. etc.
Its a Freakonomics blog, isn't it?
* Had a second look at the blog post and realized its a FREAK-Quently asked questions area, with pre-determined set of questions to different people. Uggghh

Eric M. Jones

I swear If anybody goes invisible around me, I will still be able to see him by my super-power vision, and I will smack him into next Tuesday.

Lauren B.

Mary-Beth, I see what you're saying. I was mainly thinking in terms of travel. If you were a teleporter, you could pop in and out of any country at leisure. There would be no expenses. You could go as often as you like and stay as long as you like. When you got sleepy, simply teleport back to your own bed.

As far as detection goes, you could teleport into bathroom stalls or on rooftops . . . anywhere there isn't going to be a lot people.

Granted, if you were invisible, you could sneak into airplanes and hotels and such to travel free-of-cost, but that's a lot of sneaking. And, you might start feeling guilty for not paying for airplanes and hotels that you're using.


“An FAQ with Mario Batali?” This article would be better with proper grammar. ZING!
— KG11215

Not really. The A or An isn't solely determined by a consonant or vowel, the sound of the next syllable can also dictate the usage.

Mary-Beth, MTA

I've put a little bit of thought into it, and I really don't think I'd feel guilty. I mean, the rooms and seats weren't being used anyways so what's there to feel guilty about? It's like dumpster-diving, sure... it's "stealing" but you're stealing from the city dump, and what use do they have for broken (but fixable) shelves or day-old donuts?