You can charge a guy $600 for a tasting menu. You can compare a guy to Hitler. But if you do both to him, sooner or later, he’s going to get mad.
Members of the finance industry are lashing out against Mario Batali after the celebrity chef likened their impact on the world to that of history’s worst villains, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler. On Twitter, angry bankers are using a hashtag, #bataligate, to encourage each other to boycott Batali restaurants like Babbo and Del Posto, whose ultra-high prices make them popular expense account destinations. A sample:
(Bloomberg News food critic Ryan Sutton gets credit for the coinage, by the way.)
It’s not just impotent rage, either: Eater and the Business Insider both report that bankers have been canceling reservations en masse, with one manager at a financial institution reportedly warning employees that receipts from Batali-owned eateries submitted on expense reports won’t be reimbursed. Sean Feeney, a trader and the author of the food blog Bite of the Apple, writes, “I’m not going to go to Babbo until [Batali] clarifies and/or apologizes for his words, and in fact this morning I canceled 5 reservations over the next month that I have.”
But Batali hasn’t apologized, or addressed the matter in any way except to accuse me, on Twitter, of having “deliberately misquoted” him.
I’ve called and emailed Batali’s spokeswoman, Pamela Lewy, to inquire exactly what it is Batali thinks he said that was misquoted. I haven’t heard back. For the record, accusing me of misquoting him is false, and accusing me of doing it deliberately is, frankly, libelous. There are recordings of all of his remarks, and the only minor inaccuracy in any quote I attributed to him was the result of an error in the transcript supplied to me by Time. The recording of Batali’s responses to my questions is below, and Time has posted video of the debate here. (The remarks in question come at 6:40).
Fortunately for Batali, unlike his many customers in the banking industry, I don’t expect an apology.
Contest: Are you a banker who plans to boycott Batali? Post your thoughts in the comments. My favorite commenter will win a copy of “Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home to Yours.” Why dine out when you can stay in and eat just as well, right?
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