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Mario Batali Does Golf Reality TV

Mario Batali Does Golf Reality TV


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He'll be a golf student on 'The Haney Project,' studying the sport under Tiger Woods' former golf coach

Celebrity chef Mario Batali is stepping out of the TV kitchen set and going into golfing, of all things.

The Golf Channel announced that Batali will be one of four celebrity golf students on season four of The Haney Project. He'll be playing alongside Maroon 5's Adam Levine (swoon), boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, and former supermodel Angie Everhart.

They'll be studying under Tiger Woods' former coach, Hank Haney, and are competing for a chance to win $100,000 for a charity of their choice.

According to teaser footage, Batali says golf is a "therapeutic re-evaluation of what's in the planet." Not surprising, seeing as he was on a golf course during the premiere of The Chew.

Check out Batali in action, below, and watch his golf skills Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. ET.

Photo Courtesy of Golf Channel

The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


For Mario Batali, It’s Molto Michigan

WATCHING Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But the body of water behind him is not Lake Como, but rather Grand Traverse Bay, and the scene is not the countryside of Northern Italy but the wilderness of northern Michigan where Mr. Batali spends his summers and most holidays cooking for family and friends. “Michigan is my antidote to Manhattan,” he said, expertly swiveling the pizza around with a paddle that looked like a giant spatula. “This is where I come to relax.”

While it is easy to picture Mr. Batali at work — his flushed face, red ponytail and expansive girth regularly stretch across the Food Channel, his five cookbooks grace the shelves of most bookstores, and along with his own line of cookware and a vineyard in Italy, he is now the chef behind 11 restaurants (7 in New York, 2 in Los Angeles, and 2 in Las Vegas) — what is more difficult is envisioning him relaxing.

But that is exactly what he tries to do at his lakeside home on the Leelanau Peninsula, best pinpointed as the top of the little finger in the Michigan mitten, an area known more for its white beaches, sand dunes and islands than its local food, though cherries and whitefish are particular regional delicacies.

“It takes less time for me to get here from New York than it would for me to get to Amagansett,” said Mr. Batali, whose outfit of orange Crocs, khaki shorts, orange shirt and sunglasses looks more like normal Midwest resort wear than the funky uniform that has become his signature. He flies into Traverse City, then drives to his house a half-hour away. “I can leave New York at 8 a.m. on a Friday and be right where I am now by 11 a.m.,” he said, looking out contentedly at the sparkling blue water on a cloudless day in early August. “The best thing is, no one on either coast knows what is going on in this part of the country or how great it is.”

Neither did he when he first visited more than a decade ago with his wife, Susan Cahn, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who had friends in the area. “It was winter,” he recalled. “The whole place was one big whiteout. The people we visited were using their back porch as a freezer. This huge venison was hanging out there.

“I thought the thermometer was broken because it said minus 27 degrees. It wasn’t.”

Despite the weather, he fell in love with the area and its “four full-on seasons.” After staying with Ms. Cahn’s friends and then renting for several summers after they had children (two boys, now 10 and 9), in 2003 they bought their own home, a former trout-fishing camp from the 1940s that had an office (now the guest cottage) and a dining lodge (now the house).

Though the five-bedroom stone and shingle home had a painted blue concrete driveway and a matching blue metal roof (the roof remains), there were two features that immediately drew Ms. Cahn to the property. “I loved the outside stone walls, and the color of the kitchen was my favorite shade of pink,” she said, adding that they purchased the house for less than half of the $1.4 million now listed as the price of a neighbor’s home.

IF Mr. Batali’s color is orange, then Ms. Cahn’s is pink. The walls in the kitchen remain pink (some are also orange), the utility room is pink, and down near the beach two pink Adirondack chairs look out over the white sand beach. “When I go down there I say to everyone, ‘You can find me in the pinks,’ ” she said.

Renovations started with the decision to move the basement stairway to expand the small kitchen, a project that left Mr. Batali working on plywood counters. But even completed, the kitchen is not as large as one might expect for a celebrity chef. It opens onto a loftlike living area the couple brightened by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows and doors leading onto a new deck overlooking the water. The living room and an adjoining sun porch contain little furniture beyond two picnic tables, which they move together, sometimes bringing in a third picnic table from outside, if needed.

“We invite friends from New York to come here,” Ms. Cahn said, “but truthfully, our friends are often too busy to get here.” Instead, they spend time there with local friends, as do the boys, who have their own social network through an area day camp the children’s dormer room off the playroom, equipped with table tennis and a pinball machine, has additional beds for overnight guests. Ms. Cahn says the children rarely watch TV there, spending most of their time outdoors. And when inside they often play “Iron Chef,” with each preparing his own meal. “One of them made pasta with honey the other night,” she said.

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

At Thanksgiving Mr. Batali slipped a 20-pound stuffed turkey into the pizza oven, along with sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows on top, and at Christmas, he cooked a huge ham in it. “I cook vegetables, fish, meat, in it,” he said. “You name it.”

Ms. Cahn added, “He loves to cook up here because it is his time to cook just for us and friends.”

One wonders if the hammock on the private beach has ever been graced with Mr. Batali’s body, given his active vacation schedule. “I usually golf two to three times a week, go fishing at least once a week, shop, do errands, cook for friends and family, and swim out to the raft every day,” he said.

Though he has so far resisted any impulse he might have to open a restaurant in the area, he still finds himself working at times. Earlier in the summer the photo shoot for his latest cookbook (on grilling, out next Father’s Day) took place at the house, and the previous night Mr. Batali’s five-course Roman Lunch for 12 was the big winner at the annual fund-raising picnic for the Leelanau Conservancy, which protects local wildlife. The meal, in which guests help him cook, was auctioned for $67,000, $25,000 above the previous year.

After the pizza-making session, Mr. Batali headed to nearby Leland to do errands and stopped in at the local bookstore to sign copies of his cookbooks, and that evening he stopped in at an outdoor concert in Northport.

Seated at a table with his children and their friends, he signed autographs for food fans — “To Ben, Spaghetti is Love,” he wrote on one child’s paper plate — and accepted a parade of thanks from locals regarding the conservancy auction. And then, at 10 minutes to 9, the chef known for partying until the wee hours of the night in Manhattan picked up his folding orange chair, gathered his kids and headed home for an early night.


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