Mario Batali Teases The Comeback Nobody Wants

Although some of us may not be ready, chef Mario Batali may be teasing a comeback, causing mixed reactions over social media. Over the past three days, the disgraced chef, who has been silent on social media since Halloween 2017, has posted twice on Instagram, hinting that he's ready to return to the kitchen (we think).

On October 21, 2023, Batali posted a grainy photo of rigatoni in a ragu on Instagram with the caption, "Mario Batali Virtual Events Coming soon..." along with a contact email address. While it is unclear what Batali's virtual events will entail, both of his recent posts have received hundreds of comments from fans who are mainly excited to see a comeback.

While some comments expressed negative feelings about Batali's return, calling him a "creep," a disproportionate amount echoed the same amnesic sentiments, "Welcome back, Chef! I've missed you!" and "Would love to see you have a comeback chef!" There's a chance these comments are being filtered to skew positive, so take that with a grain of salt. What's more, the positive comments weren't just from fans of the Food Network star; others in the restaurant industry, including chef Robbie Felice, who cooked at Batali's New York City eatery, Babbo, and Matt Abdoo, former Del Posto chef de cuisine, both left "Yes Chef" in the comments.

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Are we ready for a comeback?

Although we haven't seen much of Mario Batali since 2017, except for accounts of how many hundreds of thousands of dollars he has paid in sexual harassment settlements, Batali didn't completely disappear from the industry. It took two years for Batali to divest from Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, which he co-owned with Joe and Lidia Bastianich. By 2019, Batali was no longer a partner in his restaurant group's eateries, including Del Posto, Babbo, Lupa, Felidia, and eventually Eataly. The scandal's epicenter, the Spotted Pig, which he co-owned with Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield, closed in 2020, but apparently, the red-headed chef wasn't ready to hang up his apron.

In January 2023, Batali appeared on a liquor license application for Common Good Bakery in Traverse City, Michigan, less than 30 miles from the location of his last Instagram post, where the bakery's tagline is "DO GOOD, EVERY DAY." According to the application, co-owners Jason and Linda Gollan "plan to leverage our partnership with celebrity chef Mario Batali and launch a series of events designed to tackle the problem of food insecurity in northern Michigan." The Gollans added, "Each event will feature a nationally known celebrity chef, with whom we will create a once-in-a-lifetime culinary event."

It appears the Italian chef may make his first public appearance off the shore of Lake Michigan, possibly Zooming into the kitchen of a forgiving fan wearing his signature orange clogs soon.