Chef Batali on gastronomic Spanish road trip

Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:44am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Chef Mario Batali, who is renowned for his Italian cuisine, has turned his attention to Spain in a new television series with actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

In "Spain...on the road Again," which also features American food writer Mark Bittman and actress Claudia Bassols, he travels around the country and interviews some of its top chefs including Ferran Adria and Juan Mari Arzak.

Batali, who has lived in Spain and has known Paltrow for a decade, said the Oscar-winning actress was fun to travel with.

"She's got a great perspective on the world and doesn't need or care to be famous when you are with her," the 47-year-old chef said.

He spoke to Reuters about the differences in Italian and Spanish cuisine and what makes the food so distinctive.

Q: What was the idea behind the show?

A: "The show idea is to travel around Spain and view it both from a professional gastronomic point of view such as mine or Mark's, and from a less professional but equally interested (view) such as Claudia's and Gwyneth's, to see what it is that is going on in Spain that has me so excited. And in fact we do. We see all kinds of crazy simple things from housewives and home-cooked (meals) to molecular gastronomy in the hands of nitrogen experts."

Q: How would you compare and contrast Spanish and Italian cuisines?   Continued...

<p>Chef Mario Batalio and actress Gwyneth Paltrow are seen in this September 26, 2008 handout photo. REUTERS/Handout/Courtesy of public television series, "Spain...on the road Again"</p>