Aug 3 2010, 9:24 AM ET
Goodbye to a Nonpareil by Julie Mautner
.............Wherever Michael worked, the vibe was salon as much as office. Rarely a day would go by at Food Arts without a visit from someone: a food writer looking for work, a young chef seeking a stage, a reporter sniffing for trends, an author plugging a book. The mountain of stuff on the Bat's couch would be shoved aside, the visitor warmly welcomed. Anyone who found their way to Michael was guaranteed an ear, a helping hand, a leg up.
"Michael was one of the first people anywhere to treat me like a writer," Anthony Bourdain says on his blog, "back when I was an anonymous, line-cooking journeyman chef, long before Kitchen Confidential."
Indeed, not only did Michael and Ariane share a passion for rare and beautiful objects, they hunted and gathered remarkable people. Michael was a connector, a networker in the very best sense. (He thought Facebook was brilliant, I hear.) No matter where you announced you were going—to Brighton Beach, St. Barts, Bordeaux—Michael knew someone there who'd help you, and he'd reach for the phone to make it happen.
And people were loyal in return. One of the many perks at Food Arts was meeting and working with some of the top names in our field: Craig Claiborne, Jacques Pepin, Gael Greene, Bryan Miller, Elizabeth Schneider and so many others. They all wrote for Food Arts because no one ever said no to the Bats. "Normally I ask for a fee much larger than that," was how it usually went, back in the early days when we had virtually no budget to pay our writers. "But since it's the Bats, of course I'll do it. Don't forget to give them my love."
When they conceived Food Arts, the Bats believed that chefs needed information no one else was providing. And knew that chefs were interested in things far beyond the stove. They saw chefs as artistic, educated, intelligent businesspeople—and felt they'd embrace a magazine that recognized it.
"Michael definitely brought the work of the chef to a higher level," Jacques Pepin told me. "But not in a faddish way. It had deeper meaning with him. He made us more academic, in some ways, and made us more respectable."
"The Bats saw the whole celebrity chef scene coming long before anyone else did," says Beverly Stephen, Food Arts executive editor. "And to a great extent they helped create it. Yes, he gave chefs the chance to be boldface names. But for Michael it was always more about giving them the respect that they deserve."
And there was their sense of art—the interest that originally drew Michael and Ariane together. The Israeli food stylist Nir Adar had been in the country just two weeks when Alex von Bidder, co-owner of the Four Seasons restaurant, suggested he call on Food Arts. "I had two photos in my hand, showing food as art," Adar told me. "Michael looked at them and proclaimed: 'I've been dreaming of something like this for years! I want you to work on two double spreads and a cover.' I had no clue what he meant but it sounded like a good beginning. Twenty years and dozens of covers and pages later, there's not a day I don't thank him for changing the course of my life. If not for him I'd still be peeling carrots at the Four Seasons."
And then of course there was Michael's encyclopedic knowledge of culinary history: why we eat what we eat and how we got that way. The New York Times obit nailed it perfectly, saying his interest lay "not merely in food per se, but in food as a mirror of the collective national psyche." He had a scary ability to recall meals enjoyed years and even decades before ... and many people didn't know he was an exceptional cook as well. James Beard once called him the most talented home cook in America. He was drawn to anything new, creative, well-done. He might not embrace it—like typing: he wrote everything longhand on yellow legal pads—but he definitely wanted to know about it, and that meant that he usually called the trends long before anyone else.
Listen to people talk about Michael and certain ideas come up again and again. Ultimate gentleman. Last of a breed. Wildly passionate about people and food. (Food writer Meryle Evans calls him "a Renaissance mensch.") And those clothes! "Despite always being the best dressed man in the room he was never, ever snobbish or stuffy," Dave Arnold, of the French Culinary Institute, wrote in his blog. "He could show up to a pig-pickin in a three-piece suit and look perfectly at home."
I stayed at Food Arts for 10 years as executive editor, and ultimately quit to freelance. But the Bats and I remained close all these years. For me and countless others, there's always been room at the Batterberry table. Up in the Bats' apartment in May, I showed him my new iPhone and a few of its gee-whiz apps. Where others of his generation might have said "What do I need that for?" the Bat's response was predictably exuberant: "This is just terrific. Ariane, let's look into this!"
A few days later at the James Beard Awards, the Bats accepted their Lifetime Achievement Award to a standing ovation from 2,000. The Bat, for his part, said it was his best honor ever. A few days later, he fell ill again and this time he didn't recover.
"I didn't know the Bats very well," former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl says. "But I always thought that Michael seemed like the coolest kid in school. He was smart and funny, good-looking, erudite, and no matter who you were, he seemed to be living a better life than yours."
Of the four full-time editors at Food Arts today, none has been there fewer than 15 years. "Loyalty and love: we're a tight group," Jim Poris says. "The Bat allowed us to bring out the best in ourselves and in each other."
Beverly Stephen sums up 20 years of working for Michael this way: "It was like being seated next to the most interesting guest—at the kind of fabulous dinner parties most of us never get invited to."insatiable-critic.com
August 2, 2010 | Short Order
Michael Batterberry: Between Cary Grant and Fred Astaire with smarts
Michael Batterberry, the charming and debonair founder with his wife Ariane of Food & Wine and Food Arts
magazines, died Wednesday at 78. It was a number he declined to reveal
“because age entries should be reserved for wine lists,” as he told the
Times. He was both an historian and a shaper of late 20th
century food culture, with a passion that preceded the American food
revolution. This past May the couple was honored with the Lifetime
Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation for their
contributions to America’s culinary scene.
Michael had enriched many lives as an advocate of chefs and restaurateurs, a charming raconteur, a repository of five decades of food world memories, and a culinary matchmaker. But we were shocked at the indignity of what seemed a premature death. His passion and inventiveness were so young. He never gave in to old fogyness like some of us. He was always open to new tastes, young talent, molecular daring and seemed to know what the next big thing would be…perhaps because he gave it a name in Food Arts. It was just a few months ago we shared dinner at the Four Seasons where he told stories from the days of Joe Baum, the Kovi-Margittai years, and the Seppi Rengli kitchen. Graceful, ironic, biting, fun. Impossible to think he could go so quickly.
Wherever you were heading – Delhi, Barcelona, Tunisia, Cancun – he knew someone you should meet before you left and once you arrived, and an angle you might not have thought of for the story that would suit Food Arts’ professional readers. Horizons and friendships expanded through the connections he made for me and so many.
He made strong passionate recommendations for people he believed in, as Dave Arnold wrote last week in crediting his job at the French Culinary Institute to Batterberry’s intervention. He had his own custom tailored image, somewhere between Cary Grant and Fred Astaire. “He could show up at a pig-pickin’ in a three piece suit and look perfectly at home,” Arnold adds. “Despite always being the best dressed man in the room, he was never, ever snobbish or stuffy.”
Saturday, July 31, 2010
"Michael Batterberry, an authority on the aesthetics of food and culture who, with his wife, launched two magazines that influenced the thinking of home cooks and chefs alike, died July 28 of cancer at a hospital in New York City. He was 78.......
....Mr. Batterberry led a romantically peripatetic early life, working as a painter, a sketch artist in Paris and a cabaret singer in Rome. He opened an interior design firm in Venezuela.
The author of 18 books, Mr. Batterberry had little interest in writing about food until he married Ariane Ruskin in 1968 and settled in New York. He published several textbooks on art history on his own, but together the couple explored restaurants and began to write about food from a cultural and historical perspective......
......The Batterberrys envisioned Food & Wine -- originally called the International Journal of Food & Wine -- as a more lively and controversial alternative to the well-established Gourmet magazine.
"We don't pay very much attention to new magazines," a senior editor of Gourmet told The Post at the time. "We don't look at the others as competition. They look at us, try to copy us and fail miserably."
Food & Wine, now owned by American Express, has a current circulation of more than 900,000. Gourmet folded last year."New York Times
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: July 29, 2010
Mr. Batterberry, who in recent years had genteelly declined to disclose his age to the news media — “Age entries should be reserved for wine lists,” he once told The New York Times — was 78.Wine Spectator
Food Arts Co-Founder Michael Batterberry Dies at 78
Magazine's editor-in-chief and publisher helped shape the growth of America’s food, restaurant and hospitality universe
Posted: July 29, 2010
Michael Batterberry, one of America’s most influential editors and writers on food and restaurants, passed away July 28 at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York after a lengthy illness. He was 78.
Just over two months ago, the Batterberrys—Michael, co-founder/editor-in-chief/publisher of Food Arts, and his wife Ariane Batterberry, Food Arts’ founding editor/publisher—received the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010, a public affirmation of their major role in nurturing and shaping the surging growth of the American food, restaurant and hospitality universe.
Michael Batterberry created two milestone national food magazines: Food Arts (1988)—the influential, award-winning publication for the restaurant and hotel trades that has won the coveted Folio Gold “Eddie” B2B awards numerous times and is now published by M. Shanken Communications—and Food & Wine (1978), a leading consumer publication.
“Michael played a key role in the advancement of America's culinary culture," said Marvin R. Shanken, who brought Food Arts magazine into the M. Shanken Communications group in 1989. "Thanks to his vast knowledge and creativity, his legacy in the food world will live on for generations to come."Huffington PostAnthony Bourdain August 2, 2010, 9:31 AM
Michael was one of the first people anywhere to treat me like a writer–back when I was an anonymous, line-cooking journeyman chef, long before Kitchen Confidential. The Food Arts offices were down the street from Les Halles and he’d stop in often, always–always–impeccable in pin-striped, bespoke suits. He seemed, from outward appearances, the last person in the world who would know me–or care much what the hell I had to say. But he did. He assigned me articles, talked with me about the industry, asked my opinion at a time when no one else cared. The cover photo of Kitchen Confidential was, in fact, originally commissioned by Michael for Food Arts. It illustrated the article I wrote for him, “Mission To Tokyo”, which later appeared in slightly different form in the book.
The menacing looking blade I’m holding in that picture is a 16th century Japanese ceremonial sword that Michael borrowed from the Asia Society. He was from before the beginning–and until the end of his life, fiercely supportive of my writing. It should be noted that he and his wife were also the founders of Food and Wine magazine, created specifically as an antidote to the stuffy content in food magazines of the day. That together they wrote a number of excellent books–including the superb ON THE TOWN IN NEW YORK, probably the best history of the New York restaurant and dining scene you can find. (I relied heavily on it for Typhoid Mary).
That Food Arts was way ahead of its time in that it focused on CHEFS at a time when everybody else was looking at bundt cakes or refrigerators. Their column on chefs’ movements from restaurant to restaurant–as close to a gossip column as it got in the industry, was something of a revelation. Clearly somebody was reading about chefs. Somebody cared about them. I filed that knowledge away for future use.
My fondest memory of Michael Batterberry is when he called me up out of the blue and invited me to dinner at LE VEAU D’OR, an old, criminally neglected restaurant on the Upper East Side near Bloomingdales. I must have walked by the place a hundred times but I’d never been in. Michael delightedly pointed out the menu–unchanged since the forties–and assured me that I would love the place. He was right. It was–and remains–one of the last places in New York where you can get the good old stuff, the French food of my childhood, a selection of dishes so passe, so out of fashion–and in an environment untouched by time. It is a magical place and it spoke volumes about Michael that he would choose it–of all places–to take me to dinner. It says you have a big heart when you love LE VEAU D’OR –and a sentimental streak a mile wide. Michael had both.
You can see Michael and I reliving that meal on the Disappearing Manhattan episode of NO RESERVATIONS. I’m grateful to him for so many things. That restaurant is just one of them.www.epicurious.com
In Memory of Michael Batterberry
In 1999 I was thrilled to land a job as an intern at Food Arts, the smartly written and beautifully shot restaurant-trade publication that the Batterberrys started after Food and Wine. I knew next to nothing about big-name chefs, avant-garde cooking techniques, or culinary trends, but Michael and his editorial staff welcomed me with open arms and taught me more in that five-month period than I've learned in perhaps any other time of my life. Michael was awe-inspiring, yet simultaneously approachable. A dapper figure, always perfectly dressed, he was incredibly cultured and knowledgeable, yet his office door was always open, even to a lowly intern like me. He had no computer and no assistant; he answered his own phone. I particularly remember one time when I was in his office, helping with research for an upcoming issue, and the phone rang; it was a reporter for The New York Times. I don't think Michael was expecting the call, yet he picked up and, completely off the top of his head, began answering the reporter's questions with erudite, well-thought-out quotes on food history and cultural context. I think it was at that moment that I thought, "This is what I want to do for a living." I was starstruck by the depth of Michael's knowledge and thrilled by the connections he made between food, history, and culture.