Penne From Heaven

In an era of kitchen showboats, Mario Batali is a back-to- basics master. Just ignore the shorts

This is a story about a lumpy guy with a funny name who cracks jokes as he cooks amazing food. This is not a story about Emeril Lagasse.

They say success comes at a price, and for Mario Batali the price is this: despite his three always-booked restaurants in New York City, the breathless reviews from critics, a new Food Network show debuting next week (to complement his first, which is still airing), two cookbooks, a lovely family and a clean bill of health after surviving a brain aneurysm, Batali is always the other great American chef.

Which is too bad....

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