The Batali Inquisition: Danny Meyer

We finally found the consummate restaurateur’s one potential flaw…

Mario Batali
May 8, 2014 · 4 min read

When is your favorite time of day?

Nothing beats 6-9pm in the summertime. Everyone has such a glow from being outdoors, the temperature (usually) drops just a bit, and those sunsets just feel so good.

Where do you sleep best?

Almost anywhere other than an airplane! Actually, I do my best sleeping in my own bed at home, which is a good thing.

What is the best way to recharge your batteries?

I need my three weekly visits to the gym, as well as two runs each week, to stay in “alert” mode. My goal is to use up the abundant energy I put into my tank each week — and also to unload the abundance of things on my mind.

Where is your energy most successfully applied?

Problem solving and idea generation. That’s what we get paid to do! I love the team members with whom I get to do both. It’s really a privilege.

Where do you waste the most energy?

Returning emails. I have yet to find a strategy to not find my evenings and much of the day consumed with reading and responding to the very high volume of emails people send me.

When are you most depleted?

Friday afternoon by about 5pm. I don’t leave anything behind. I can’t recall the last time I said, “Now that was an easy week!”

What is the last thing you ate?

Insalata mista and a panino indiavolato over brunch at Maialino.

Image for post
Danny Meyers’ “selfie”

When are you hungry?

Just about always. But mainly before dinner. I work for the reward of enjoying a good dinner, and I make the reward count.

What was the last thing you cooked?

A breakfast burrito for my daughter, Gretchen, before she had to take her ACT exam.

If you were a food, what would you be?

Sausage and mushroom pizza. And I would love myself a lot.

Describe the perfect meal, what and where?

I’m in Rome — or maybe Tuscany — and the meal begins with antipasto: lots of salumi and vegetables, then an awesome pasta, a big juicy Chianina bistecca or maybe a lombata di vitello from the grill, and all kinds of amazing wines from my favorite Italian producers.

What is your favorite Olympic event?

Probably swimming or gymnastics, but really, I love watching any sport at the championship level, especially when losing means elimination.

What was the last live performance you saw?

My wife, Audrey and I saw Red Velveta wonderful London import, at St. Anne’s Warehouse. It’s about the first black actor to play Othello, and the acting was hauntingly good.

With which artist of all time do you most identify?

“Identify” is a stretch. “Look up to”, is maybe more to the point: Paul Simon, James Taylor, Carole King, Neil Young, Donald Fagen, and John Lennon. Each one took risks, paved the way for others, and found ways to reinvent what was expected from them — all the while finding a large audience to please.

Who is your favorite literary character?

The Old Man and the Sea. He is so courageous, so lonely, so stubborn, so wise, and so foolish.

What is your favorite method of travel?

I love to fly. I adore the time alone, and it gets me further, faster. The only exception is for trips to Washington D.C. — when I love the train.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Almost anywhere in Europe. I especially adore France, Italy, and Spain, and since we have no business in any of those places, I can truly vacate.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

For a city: London. For my fantasy — Tuscany, or maybe Provence.

What food do you want served at your funeral?

I can’t even contemplate this one! I guess sausage and mushroom pizza, barbecue, smoked salmon and cream cheese on good bagels (if anyone is still making them), fried chicken, cold kegs of beer, and good red wine.

What is your favorite luxury?

Time. Time to read. Time to be, rather than to do. Mostly, time to take a vacation with my family — and an even bigger luxury: time to take a vacation with my wife.

Bonus question: Can you tell me a little about the best frozen custard experience in the world?

Click here to see Danny Meyers’s answer.

The Batali Inquisition

Mario Batali’s questionnaire of record

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