Mario Batali's Latest Collaboration Is Perfect For Anyone Looking For Culinary Inspiration

Photo: Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic.
Have you ever looked at the page of a magazine and thought, "I just want all of that, preferably right now?" Then Story might be your perfect place. A retail store with rotating stories (hence the name), the space is completely reinvented every four to eight weeks. Started back in 2011 by Rachel Shechtman, a fourth-generation entrepreneur, the latest story is one shoppers can sink their teeth into — literally. Through a partnership with Jet.com, visitors will have the opportunity to buy both carefully curated products and fresh produce.
The experience includes goods and recipes selected by some of our favorite foodies and chefs, including Mario Batali. We spoke with Batali to learn more about what we can expect from him as part of Fresh Story, as well as the secrets to the perfect thank-you gift and the weirdest thing he's ever ordered online.
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Tell us a little bit about your collaboration with Fresh Story and how that came about. 

I love the idea of rotating “stories” and changing up concept every couple of months. When Rachel got in touch about being part of Fresh Story, the decision was easy. Rachel’s insane attention to detail is just like that of a great restaurateur — a perfect combination of creativity and refinement that delivers an extraordinary customer experience. I’ve got this dreamy little area with all my [Mario Batali] products in one spot — pasta, olive oil, vinegar, my pepper mills, my cutting boards…basically all the "ingredients” for a great meal. We even have some orange signature Crocs in the mix.
Photo: Courtesy of Fresh.
Many items in your line, like olive oil and balsamic vinegar are native to Italy, but are considered must-have pantry staples across the world — why do you think that is?
Italian ingredients have become the go-to components for any delicious meal. Can you think of one vegetable that doesn’t go well with a beautiful Italian olive oil? Or a pasta?
Just about every item in your fridge is going to be exponentially tastier when tossed with olive oil, some flaky sea salt, a dash of aceto, or squeeze of lemon. Easy access to these staples streamlines prep work and encourages more home cooking and less ordering in.
Going into summer, do the items you keep stocked in your pantry change at all? 

I spend my summers in Northern Michigan and we do most of our cooking outside, using my pizza oven, so we’ve got some AP and 00 flour on hand at all times. Cherries are the reigning produce in Northern Michigan, where we live, so we always have fresh and dried local cherries to add to anything, like salads or stuffed proteins. I always keep a frozen bag of last year’s cherries ready especially for my wife’s Susi’s famous tart cherry pie upon arrival.
Fresh Story is a great place to go for gifts as well as culinary inspiration. If you're ever in the need for inspiration, where do you go or what do you do?
Fish’s Eddy for dishes and serve-ware, Despaña for specialty Spanish items and of course, Eataly, our Italian marketplace and culinary wonderland. I’m a big fan of a thoughtfully curated thank you package: typically a collection of some of my products plus a few fresh ingredients that, combined, can easily create a meal. Start with two different dried pastas and sauces, then add a good olive oil and also killer piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano from your cheese monger. Sometimes I’ll add a cookbook or pepper mill. Finish the gift with a nice package of Italian chocolates and you’ve got an unmatched thank you.
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When I need a hit of inspiration, I’ll turn to what my kids are into these days, new restaurants popping up on the New York scene, seasonal produce in the Union Square Farmers’ market, and tips from my Chew co-hosts.
The partnership is also with Jet.com, which can deliver everything from fresh produce to mattresses. What's the weirdest/funniest thing you've ever ordered off the internet?
Perhaps the funniest (tall) order was sending It’s-It ice cream sandwiches to my son Leo and his classmates when they attended a semester at The Island School in the Bahamas. That was a crazy one.
In general I’m a fan of local shopping, but even in NYC, where you can get just about anything at any time of day, sites like Jet.com can be so easy (especially when you’re working in a restaurant till the weee hours of the morning and uhhhh you forgot to get a mother’s day present and Story's closed.. hee hee).
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